9 Dec 2004

New Zealand asked to help in Papua following Indonesian offensive

2:37 pm on 9 December 2004

The New Zealand government is being urged to take action over the plight of 5,000 refugees in the Indonesian province of Papua displaced by a military offensive.

A New Zealand body, the Indonesia Human Rights Committee, says thousands of people in the Puncak Jaya region have been forced to flee from their homes and live in makeshift camps in the mountains.

A spokesperson for the Auckland branch of the committee, Maire Leadbeater, says the people are facing cold and starvation and fifteen are now dead.

The committee has approached New Zealand's foreign minister, Phil Goff, and asked him to liaise with his Indonesian counterpart in a bid to allow humanitarian aid into the area.

"The New Zealand government should be raising this with the Indonesian government and insisting with the Indonesian government that they drop the military cordon that's surrounding the area. That's really the biggest problem to getting any aid in, is the fact that there's a tight military cordon around the area."

Maire Leadbeater says she is yet to hear back from Mr Goff.