17 starvation deaths in Papua’s Amuma District prompt urgent humanitarian response

A resident next to the grave of his son who died of starvation due to the disaster - Doc. Humanitarian care coordinator in Amuma

Jayapura, Jubi – Secretary of the Kingmi Papua Synod Dominggus Pigai reports that the number of deaths due to starvation in Yahukimo Regency’s Amuma District has increased, a result of crop failure.

“According to the data reported by the district head, there were 11 fatalities initially since September. However, in October, an additional five individuals passed away. Therefore, the total number of casualties due to starvation in the Amuma District has risen to 17,” he conveyed to Jubi over a phone call on Friday, October 20, 2023.

The Amuma District has been experiencing continuous heavy rainfall since August 2023, accompanied by hot weather. Consequently, the local residents’ plantations, mainly sweet potatoes and taro, have suffered from crop failures. This crop failure has affected the gardens in 13 villages in the Amuma District, triggering a famine that has resulted in the deaths of infants and adults.

The number of victims is likely to increase as a church team is currently compiling data on the deceased. Based on data provided by the Amuma Kingmi Church, the villages affected by the famine are Amuma, Sarmoge, Ogoruga, Pulau, Sagasal, Harapan, Wayegeikelek, Toligapura, Kolowen, Kenika, Silorin, Balumeran, and Wesi.

The following are the names of the individuals who have passed away due to starvation from August to October 2023:

  1. Anak Joni Lagoan (Male), aged 9 years
  2. Herman Payage (Male), aged 11 years
  3. Mariana Matuan (Female), aged 20 years
  4. Anthon Bayage (Male), aged 39 years
  5. Hariana Payage (Female), aged 40 years
  6. Elin Matuan (Female), aged 29 years
  7. Matias Heluka (Male), aged 40 years
  8. Hernia Yelemaken (Female), aged 7 years
  9. Nones Lagoan (Male), aged 20 years
  10. Penias Heluka (Male), aged 14 years
  11. Meliance Meage (Female), aged 39 years
  12. Melkias Lagoan (Male), aged 3 months
  13. Harina Heluka (Female), aged 5 years
  14. Jalnhwe Heluka (Female), aged 20 years
  15. Yosua Matuan (Male), aged 3 years
  16. Yohana Heluka (Female), aged 4 years
  17. Wene Matuan (Male), aged 40 years.

Pigai mentioned that the Ministry of Social Affairs has contacted the Kingmi church to verify the information concerning the deaths of residents in the Amuma District. This is to facilitate the distribution of aid to the affected victim.

Pigai emphasized that the government must find the appropriate solution so that the people survive this epidemic and prevent further casualties. (*)

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