22 Jul 2019

At least 139 dead in Papuan displacement camps - aid group

11:14 am on 22 July 2019

An aid group says at least 139 people have died in displacement camps in the highlands of West Papua.

Emergency temporary school for displaced Papuan children in Wamena.

Emergency temporary school for displaced Papuan children in Wamena. Photo: Humanity Volunteer Team of Nduga

But the Indonesian military has disputed the figures in the region plagued by conflict between separatist rebels and the state.

By all accounts, the conflict in Papua's Nduga regency has killed dozens since December, forcing many more to flee for their lives.

But a report by the aid group, Solidarity Team for Nduga, puts the number of displaced people at 5,000.

The figure is in line with estimates from other rights groups.

Thursday's report also said 139 people from Nduga had died in a displacement camp in Wamena town, mostly from disease and malnutrition.

An Indonesian military spokesperson, Muhammad Aidi, says the report is a hoax and more proof is needed.

The report claimed the health of displaced peoples from Nduga was deteriorating due to a lack of humanitarian supplies - especially food and medical supplies - and infectious diseases including dysentery which were going unchecked.

The Solidarity Team for Nduga has called on Indonesia to dismiss police and military forces from Nduga, recognise and support displaced peoples and open access to Papua to rights groups, humanitarian workers and journalists.

It said the government had failed to recognise the Nduga violence as an armed conflict, limiting aid which could be authorised under Indonesian laws.

The aid group also called on the provincial government in Papua to declare a humanitarian emergency in Nduga and form a special task force to deal with the crisis.

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