• Crisis Severity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Key figures

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



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.?

Violence has continued, and escalated in August 2019, when anti-racism protests and widespread violence erupted in the Papuan Provinces follwing the detention and  alleged discriminatory treatment of 43 Papuan students on the island of Java. Indonesia implemented a heavy-handed response: 6,000 military personnel deployed to the region, an internet slowdown was established, and dozens of activists were detained. More than 40 people were killed in riots, and as many as 16,000 non-Papuan migrants from other parts of Indonesia were evacuated from Wamena town due to the unrest.?

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

Latest Developments


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.? 


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. ?


Escalating violence due to protests in Papua and West Papua leads to displacement and increased humanitarian needs. Latest update: 29/11/2019


Highly unlikely Somewhat likely Highly likely


Very low Moderate Major

The provinces of Papua and West Papua are home to a low-level insurgency, ongoing since the establishment of the Free Papua Movement in 1963. Violence escalated after a large-scale attack by militants in December 2018.? Since 19 August 2019, anti-racism protests have erupted and the independence movement has reignited, causing widespread violence. Protests erupted in response to the detention and discriminatory treatment of 43 Papuan students on the island of Java and have evolved into riots. Indonesia has implemented a heavy-handed response: 6,000 military personnel deployed to the region, an internet slowdown, and the detention of dozens of activists. More than 40 people have been killed.?

Protests in the Papuan provinces are common; however, current unrest is unprecedented. Historically, protest movements have been orchestrated by exiled Papuan leaders and were limited to the provinces. The current protests originated from directly within West Papua and spread across Indonesia. Since mid-August, protests have occurred in 30 cities in Indonesia and solidarity demonstrations have taken place in Papua New Guinea and Australia.?Tensions between Papuans and Indonesians have also escalated. Since mid-August, threats have forced more than 2,000 Papuan university students across Indonesia to return home to Papua province, and the government has evacuated 16,000 non-Papuan migrants from Wamena due to safety concerns.?

Access constraints for humanitarian agencies have left the response in the hands of the Indonesian government. However, there is currently no government-coordinated humanitarian response in areas impacted by previous violence or ongoing protests. The Indonesian government has used the Free Papua Movement as a reason for maintaining strict standards for local and foreign NGOs in the region. Access for human rights organisations has been restricted and international intervention rejected.?

Protection is a major concern given that Indonesian rule in the region has been marked by human rights violations, including torture and extrajudicial killings of activists and protestors.?Widespread unrest has disrupted access to public services. Schools have suffered damages and closures due to the riots. Markets and businesses have been burnt and forced to close, limiting access to goods and services, as well as livelihoods. Reports suggest that power outages caused by damage from the riots have disrupted health services in affected communities in Wamena.?

IDPs in areas affected by riots are particularly vulnerable to secondary displacement and elevated humanitarian needs as services become disrupted and humanitarian access constrained by insecurity. Clashes between separatist militants and Indonesian forces have displaced as many as 30,000 people in Nduga since December 2018.? Wamena, a town of 31,000 people, has experienced the highest levels of riot-related violence and is already hosting as many as 5,000 IDPs from neighbouring Nduga regency.?Conditions in IDP camps are poor and access to food, water, and healthcare is limited. In August 2019, a local NGO reported that nearly 200 IDPs have died this year from malnutrition and disease.? There exists the potential for an influx of West Papuan refugees to neighbouring Papua New Guinea (PNG). As of 15 October 2019, there are no reports of refugees from West Papua in PNG; however, a contingency plan has been drafted by the PNG government in coordination with the National Disaster Centre, UN agencies, and NGOs in case of refugee arrivals.?

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Key Priorities


Intersectoral: Conditions in IDP camps are poor. Adequate shelter, food, water and NFIs are lacking. There are cases of IDPs dying from malnutrition. Many IDPs suffer from respiratory infections, diarrhoea and dysentery.?

Information Gaps and Needs

  • 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.
  • Updated information regarding the protests since August 2019, such as size, locations, and impact, is limited. The implementation of an internet slowdown in September and the Indonesian government's tight restrictions on foreign NGOs, media agencies, and human rights organizations in the Papuan Provinces has constrained access and information.?