Church leaders in Indonesia have called on the Indonesian Government to ensure the safe return of thousands of people displaced by conflict in the Christian-majority Papua region. Source: UCA News.
“The central and local governments must return the Internally Displaced Persons [IDPs] to their homelands by first conducting meaningful consultations,” the Justice and Peace Secretariat of four dioceses – Jayapura, Agats, Manokwari-Sorong and Timika – and Franciscans and Augustinians Order said in a joint statement on Sunday.
In the statement, the dioceses said the “active role of the Government is very slow and seems to cover up the IDPs issues in Papua” and challenged the Government’s claim in media reports that “the refugees had returned to their home villages”.
They cited the situation in Maybrat Regency, West Papua province, where the Church’s justice and peace secretariat representatives recently visited.
“There are 5296 people in Maybrat still remaining in temporary accommodations,” they said.
The displaced people were among more than 45,000 people who fled their homes due to conflict since 2018 between the Indonesian security forces and the rebel group, National Liberation Army of the Free Papua Organisation.
Fr Izhaak Bame, from Manokwari-Sorong Diocese, said he met the refugees facing many difficulties in refugee camps, including cramped living conditions.
“In one house, four to five families are living, while the boarding houses had up to 12 families,” he said.
One refugee said: “We want to return to our hometown and want to live like the normal situation before, live in peace.”