14 Mar 2006

Camps on Papua border 'preparation for possible influx of refugees'

4:15 pm on 14 March 2006

An Australian newspaper says the United Nations and authorities in Papua New Guinea have set up four more camps on the border with the Indonesian province of Papua specifically to prepare for a possible influx of new refugees.

The information in the Brisbane Courier-Mail comes from its reporter in Kiunga, on the border between Papua and PNG, as journalists are forbidden to enter Papua.

The newspaper quotes the southern regional commander of the secessionist Free Papua Movement, Jiren Bonny, as saying the new camps are sitting empty and are in addition to one official and 17 unsanctioned refugee camps housing an estimated 8,500 people.

According to the Courier-Mail, Papuan tribal leaders say Indonesian forces are training militia groups and preparing for what the newspaper describes as an 'East Timor-style looting spree' should international support for Papua independence grow.

Indonesia has consistently denied claims of widespread abuses of human rights in Papua and it says through greater powers of self-government, Papuans will take a greater share of profits from the region's natural resources.