• Crisis Severity ?
    1.9
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    1.6
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    1.5
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    2.7
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    2.0
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Key figures

  • 37,000 People displaced [?]
  • 33 Fatalities reported [?]
  • 37,000 People in Need [?]

Overview

05/08/2019

The OPM (Free Papua Movement) has led an insurgency movement calling for the independence of Papua and West Papua provinces, which comprise the western half of the island of New Guinea, since the early 1960s when Indonesia annexed the Dutch-controlled territory.?The Indonesian government has been consistently accused of human rights violations and violent suppression of the movement.?

The insurgency has long been the excuse for military involvement in Papua.?With the heightened police and military presence, there have been reports of security force abuses including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary detention, and mistreatment of peaceful protesters.?Indonesian security forces rarely face justice for abuses in Papua.?

Violence increased in late 2018 after separatists killed 19 construction workers who were building the highly contentious Trans-Papua Highway in Nduga regency in December. Tens of thousands of people were reportedly internally displaced by conflict between December 2018 and February 2019. IDPs are in need of protection, shelter, food, NFI and health assistance. Conditions in the IDP camps are poor. Food and water are lacking and some IDPs have died as a result.?Displaced children have educational needs as schools have been damaged in clashes and they often avoid school for fear of being caught in violence.?

INFORM measures Indonesia's risk of humanitarian crisis and disaster to be medium, at 4.7/10.?

Latest Developments

17/10/2019

17/10/2019 On 23 September, Papua and West Papua provinces on New Guinea island experienced an escalation of violence between student protesters and Indonesian security forces that affected particularly Wamena city in the Papua province.  Clashes in Wamena are believed to have forced around 16,000 residents to flee and police has confirmed the death of 33 people. The government temporarily shut down internet services in Wamena. Since the Indonesian government has been severely restricting access of independent observers and foreign journalists to Papua, the impact of the clashes is difficult to verify. Recent requests by foreign diplomats to visit Papua were denied. The escalation follows the re-emergence of tensions of the Papua conflict that has been leading to protest in several Indonesian cities since August.? 

11/09/2019 Since mid-August, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Indonesia’s Papua and West Papua. Reports suggest that clashes between demonstrators and security forces have resulted in the deaths of 10 civilians and one soldier. Protests erupted following alleged discriminatory treatment and detention of Papuan students in Java. As of 10 September, 6,000 security personnel have been deployed to the region and a partial internet shutdown is ongoing. The burning of public buildings and road blockages due to demonstrations has restricted access to markets and businesses, and many schools in the region remain closed. An upsurge in violence that began in December 2018 has already displaced approximately 35,000 people in the remote Nduga regency, but continued unrest in the provincial capitals of Jayapura and Manokwari could have a significant impact on displacement and access to markets and schools. ?

Humanitarian Access

05/08/2019

There is limited information on, and independent scrutiny of, the situation in West Papua as Indonesian authorities restrict NGOs, human rights groups and foreign media access on the pretext of a low-level insurgency.?Mountainous terrain and poor infrastructure also impede access.

Increasing violence and military presence in Papua province leads to further internal displacement and humanitarian needs

Latest update: 05/08/2019

Probability

Highly unlikely Somewhat likely Highly likely

Impact

Very low Moderate Major

A spike in violence has occurred in Papua province in recent months, in the context of a long-running separatist movement. Clashes between armed separatist groups and the military have led to a violent crackdown against both separatists and civilians. The Indonesian government also continues to suppress peaceful dissent by Papuan activists.?

Military presence in Papua province increased after separatists killed 19 construction workers who were building the highly contentious Trans-Papua Highway in Nduga regency in December.?The highway is scheduled for completion in 2019 and is regarded by Papuan activists and separatists as a way for Jakarta to cement control and exploit the resource-rich region.?Following the attack – the deadliest in recent years – the Indonesian military launched a counterinsurgency campaign, prompting counterattacks by separatists.?Since December up to 37,000 people have been displaced from Nduga regency as a result of the conflict.?

National elections took place in April but were widely boycotted in the province because of the unrest.?In May, Indonesian soldiers shot and killed four civilians in post-election related violence in Asmat regency.?Additional units were sent to the already heavily militarised area after the incident.?

Disorder looks set to continue and further attacks by separatists, particularly if on a scale as seen in December, would likely result in a heavy-handed response from the Indonesian military, and more violence, casualties, and displacement.?

IMPACT

If fighting increases in intensity and frequency up to 50,000 additional people could be displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance over the coming six months. 37,000 people are already displaced in Nduga regency out of an estimated population of 100,000.?Neighbouring Asmat regency is also at risk of violence and displacement should the situation continue to deteriorate.

Protection is a major concern. Indonesian rule in Papua province has been marked by human rights violations against the ethnic Melanesian population, including torture methods and extrajudicial killings of activists and peaceful protestors.?

IDPs would have urgent protection, shelter, food, NFI and health needs. Conditions in existing IDP camps are reportedly poor. Food and water are lacking and some IDPs have died as a result. Protracted displacement is likely as IDPs are often afraid to return home.?

Displaced children will have educational needs as schools are frequently damaged in clashes. Children often avoid school for fear of being caught in violence.?

Access would likely be an issue as the Indonesian government is traditionally reluctant to utilise outside help to cope with disasters and crises. NGO presence is limited however the Indonesian Red Cross is present. Given the politically sensitive nature of the separatist movement, the government would likely restrict humanitarian access. Media and human rights groups’ access to Papua is already severely restricted and information is controlled by the military.?Mountainous terrain and poor infrastructure would further hamper access.

This risk was identified in the June Quarterly Risk Report.

Read this risk

Key Priorities

05/08/2019

Intersectoral: Conditions in IDP camps are poor. Adequate shelter, food, water and NFIs are lacking. At least 139 people have died from malnutrition, disease and exposure to the elements. Many IDPs are suffering from respiratory infections, diarrhoea and dysentery.?

Information Gaps and Needs

05/08/2019
  • The total number of people displaced since December is unclear, with estimates varying from 32,000 to over 37,000. Information on the affected populations’ needs and the severity of their needs, as well as the response, is also limited.