Indonesia: Durable solutions remain elusive for many IDPs while thousands are newly displaced by military operations in Papua
Relocation sites in Ambon, Maluku (IDMC/Frederik Kok, Dec 2007)
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31 December 2012
Thousands of people were newly displaced in Indonesia in 2012. They fled renewed sectarian and inter-communal violence in East Java and Lampung provinces, and military operations targeting the Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka or OPM) in Papua province. No new displacements were recorded in the provinces of Maluku, Aceh or West Timor, which were previously affected by conflict, but tens of thousands of former IDPs there faced economic and social marginalisation and only limited access to livelihoods and basic services. For many of those living in protracted displacement, the key obstacle to achieving a durable solution was their inability to assert ownership or tenancy rights over their land and property.
In East Java, around 165 members of the province’s Shia Muslim minority were driven from their homes on Madura island for a second time in August when a mob of 500 people attacked their community. Unwilling to be relocated or to convert to Sunni Islam - a condition set by Sunni local leaders for their return - they remain living in a sports centre in Sampang district. In December government aid was withdrawn, leaving many in limbo. The community had already been displaced by similar attacks at the end of 2011, after which local authorities forced them to return even though most did not feel safe to do so.
In South Lampung regency, located on the southern tip of Sumatra island, some 2,000 people were displaced in October by violent clashes between local people and migrants from Bali in which 14 people were killed and scores of homes and vehicles destroyed. Underlying causes of the violence included economic disparities, social jealousy and negative stereotypes. A peace deal and the deployment of a 2,000-strong police force allowed most of those displaced to return shortly after the clashes, though most had to be housed temporarily in shelters amid simmering tensions.
The conflict in Papua showed no sign of abating during 2012. Thousands of people were displaced by violence in the central highlands, where Indonesian security forces are fighting OPM rebels. Papuans remain deeply frustrated by the policies of a central government that severely limits their freedom of expression, represses political dissent and has failed to raise the province’s development and human security indicators - the lowest in Indonesia despite its vast natural resources.
Between June and October, thousands of people reportedly fled their homes in and around Wamena town as a result of military sweeps. Human rights violations against civilians suspected of supporting OPM rebels were also reported. Most people fled into the forest or stayed with relatives. Military operations in the gold-rich district of Paniai forced thousands of people to seek refuge in the jungle in September and October. More than 10,000 people had fled similar operations at the end of 2011. Limited access to areas of Papua affected by conflict made it difficult to assess IDPs’ needs and provide assistance.
The National Disaster Management Agency is the administrative and policy-making body for people displaced both by natural disasters and “social conflicts”, while the Ministry of Social Affairs is responsible for providing relief during emergencies. In May, parliament adopted a “social conflict management” law designed to fill a legislative gap in the handling of conflicts and the provision of assistance and protection to people affected.
The law is controversial as it provides for greater involvement of the military in conflict resolution. Under its provisions, local authorities are able to declare a “state of conflict” in consultation with the presidency, and to impose measures to restrict people’s rights, including their freedom of movement.
Another concern is the broad definition of “social conflict”, which may be interpreted to include land conflicts pitting individuals against private companies. In recent years, communities at risk of losing their land have increasingly resisted the drive to exploit Indonesia’s vast natural resources. At the end of 2011, parliament adopted a law on “land acquisition for public interest”, which fails to recognise and guarantee the specific land rights of indigenous people and may therefore facilitate their forced eviction.
In recent years, the UN has mainly addressed IDPs’ needs through community-level reintegration and development projects aimed at improving livelihood opportunities for the most vulnerable members of the population. In 2012, the EU continued to fund a number of programmes supporting IDPs’ resettlement and livelihoods and the strengthening of the capacity of local authorities in a number of provinces, including Maluku, Central Sulawesi and West Timor.
Indonesia: hundreds return home following peace deal between community leaders in South Lampung
(16 November 2012)
Over 1,000 people internally displaced
in South Lampung, Sumatra Island, returned home following a peace deal between community leaders. The returnees were among an estimated 2,000 people displaced at the end of October by three days of violent clashes between the local people and Balinese migrants, during which 14 people were killed and hundreds of homes and vehicles were destroyed.
The clashes were triggered by the alleged harassment of two local teenage girls by young Balinese men. 10,000 locals attacked Balinuraga, a Balinese enclave, using Molotov cocktails and other home-made explosive devices. Causes of the sudden eruption of violence may have included economic disparities between the locals and the more wealthy migrants, who represent around 2 percent of the district population and are reportedly poorly integrated. Social jealousy and negative stereotypes may have also played a role.
Some 4,000 police officers were deployed by the government to prevent further violence and ensure the security of the returnees, mostly Balinese migrants. Given the considerable rebuilding effort needed before homes are habitable again, national and local authorities are providing shelter to host the returnees. The Red Cross distributed 10,000 pieces of metal sheeting and the central government promised Rp16 billion (US$ 1.7 million) to rebuild damaged homes in Balinuraga and to help address some of development challenges facing the local population.
During 2011, thousands of people were displaced by renewed inter-communal violence in Maluku province and by counter-insurgency operations targeting Free Papua Movement (OPM) rebels in Papua province. Between April and December, an unknown number of Papuans were displaced in the central highlands region of Puncak Jaya. The largest reported displacement took place in mid-December in Paniai regency, where more than 10,000 people were forced from their homes in more than a hundred different villages. In September, as many as 500 homes in Maluku’s capital of Ambon were set on fire and nearly 5,000 people were displaced, some of them losing their homes for the fourth time in 12 years (...).
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22 December 2011
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- Key Documents
- Conflict Management in Indonesia – An Analysis of the Conflicts in Maluku, Papua and Poso, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Current Asia, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, 30 June 2011
- Central Sulawesi: IDP return and recovery hampered by persistent tensions, land disputes and limited access to livelihoods, IDMC, 15 December 2010
- Kalimantan: New ethnic-related displacement while earlier IDPs struggle to make return sustainable, IDMC, 22 November 2010
- Papua: Papuans displaced by military operations in the central highlands remain unassisted, IDMC, 13 October 2010
- Aceh: IDPs and returnees still face significant recovery and reintegration needs, IDMC, 8 September 2010
- West Timor: Durable solutions still out of reach for many “new citizens” from former East Timor, IDMC, 25 August 2010
- Anomie and Violence - Non-truth and reconciliation in Indonesian peacebuilding, Braithwaite, Cookson, Dunn, March 2010
- Maluku Economic Recovery Programme II Peace Study, Mercy Corps, March 2010
- Multi-Stakeholder Review of Post-Conflict Programming in Aceh - Identifying the Foundations for Sustainable Peace and Development in Aceh, Multi-stakeholder Review (MSR), December 2009
- Reconfiguring politics: the Indonesia - Aceh peace process, Conciliation Resources (CR), 8 September 2008
- Losing Ground - The human rights impacts of oil palm plantation expansion in Indonesia, Friends of the Earth, LifeMosaic and Sawit Watch, February 2008
- RSC Working Paper No. 42, Dynamics of Conflict and Displacement in Papua, Indonesia, Refugee Studies Center (RSC), University of Oxford, September 2007
- Indonesia: Out of sight - Endemic abuse and impunity in Papua's Central Highlands, HRW, 5 July 2007
- 2006 village survey in Aceh: An Assessment of Village Infrastructure and Social Conditions, Government of the Republic of Indonesia, March 2007