Nduga displaced people celebrate Christmas in grief

Nduga refugee children receiving aid from one of the educational foundations in Papua at the refugee general post in Wamena, Jayawijaya Regency. - Jubi/Imma Pelle

Wamena, Jubi – Thousands of Nduga residents who since 2018 have been displaced in Wamena and several other areas, admit that they are still crying during Christmas and do not feel the peace of Christmas.

One of the human rights observers from Nduga, Benny Murip, said that as a result of the ongoing armed conflict between the Indonesian Military (TNI) and Police and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), people have not been able to gather with their families and celebrate or enjoy Christmas in peace.

“The people of Nduga are still living in tears and grief because they cannot gather with their families, friends, brothers and sisters. All of them have been separated in several places, some have even died in refugee camps,” he said in Wamena on Monday, December 26, 2022.

He also explained that in the Nduga Regency, which consists of 11 districts, houses and churches are currently still controlled by the TNI and police. Residents have fled to several places that are considered safe.

“Some even ran to the forest, it has been five years now,” said Murip.

Nduga children living in refugee camps in Muliama District, Jayawijaya as a result of armed conflict in the central highlands of Papua. – Jubi/Yuliana Lantipo

Murip asked people outside Papua not to think that Papua was safe and peaceful. Papua are still haunted with terrors, shootings of civilians such as in Tolikara, and military operations against Papuan civilians.

Murip said some time ago, he had been to the capital of Nduga Regency, Kenyam, and witnessed how the people there lived like prisoners.

“Gardening or other activities is very difficult to do. Residents’ activities are only limited to 9 p.m., they can no longer roam outside the house past curfew because they are always watched by the authorities with weapons,” he explained.

Murip further said that even though the Nduga residents who have been displaced for five years wanted to return to their hometown, it was very difficult to realize because the war continues between the security forces and the TPNPB. Neither TPNPB leader Egianus Kogoya nor President Joko Widodo have issued a statement to stop the conflict. (*)

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