Albertus Vembrianto

Forgotten Citizens

After the shooting incident of Trans Papua access road project workers in early December 2018, Nduga Regency, Papua, Indonesia, is like a battlefield.  President Jokowi mobilized the military to resolve the case. The sweeping of the TNI (Tentara Nasional Indonesia/Indonesian National Army) – Polri (Kepolisian Republik Indonesia/Indonesian Republic Police) against the group that names itself the West Papua National Liberation Army of the Free Papua Organization (TPN/OPM) was also killing civilians.  The weapons contact between the Indonesian National Army-Indonesian Police and the TPN/OPM killed three TNI members and seven on the TPN/OPM side.

Nduga is a region in Papua, Indonesia, the poorest, despite it’s wealth natural resources. This area is one ot the world’s last pristine tropical forest, has been at the centre of much of the instability.

Since the beginning of December 2018, more than five thousand residents have fled to Wamena, Jayawijaya Regency, because of fear and insecurity. More than 600 refugees are students. The volunteer team made an emergency school, so that students at the final level could participate in the national exam.

Although they are still trauma and reluctant to others, a number of students stated that they are happy to study in emergency schools.  Because there are teachers so they can learn every day. Unlike when they were in the village in Nduga, the school did not run because their teachers were not present in school.

These refugees do not have any food and some of them suffer from illness.  Some children fainted at school because they have not get any meals for two or three days. A total of 202 refugees died, due to illness.

However, there is no government or humanitarian agency to take care of these Nduga refugees. After the riots in Wamena last September, the number of displaced Papuans has increased.

Doli, a teenage mother is sick. It has been weeks she cannot breastfeed her two and half years old baby – it only gets tea. She lost one of children while walking for days when surviving in the forest. The child was in hunger, got sick and finally died.

Houses built independently by refugees on family-owned land in Wamena, Jayawijaya Regency.

School sketches on writing pads. The houses, schools and the situation of the village they lived in were certainly damaged. they have to start from the beginning.

Nduga refugee students lined up in front of the emergency school – few students fainted during the teaching and learning process due to hunger.

Emergency schools are made of iron sheeting for roofs, plastic for walls and wood.

The Nduga refugees have to stay in the house of their relatives in Wamena, Jayawijaya Regency. One house can be occupied by 3-4 families at a time, with fifteen to twenty people inside. They have problems with meals. They often eat once a day rice only without dishes or vegetables.

Many refugees have babies. Because the mother is sick and cannot breastfeed, babies are given instant milk.

Food aid in the form of sweet potatoes and vegetables for Nduga refugees from communities around Jayawijaya Regency, Papua.

Refugee families live in barely situations. They do not receive every visit and assistance in the form of food. It is said that the provincial government provided rice for refugees but because the rice was brought using the security forces’ truck, the refugees did not willing to take the rice.

Children in emergency schools play marbles during class breaks.

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