Indonesia IDP Figure analysis

As of July 2015, IDMC estimated that there were at least 31,440 people who remained internally displaced in Indonesia as a result of conflict, violence and human rights violations.


This estimate is based on data obtained from various sources, including government agencies, international NGOs, UN agencies and the media. The government collects data on displacement caused by natural hazards and conflict (“social conflicts”) through the National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB). However, with regards to conflict-related displacement, government IDP records do not cover all regions of the country or all displacements events. According to official figures, conflict and violence displaced 11,979 people between 2006 and 2015, including 505 in 2014. No displacement was recorded in the first 6 months of 2015 (BNPB, July 2015). However, this figure is likely to significantly under-estimate total displacement as it did not take into account ongoing displacement in Papua and West Papua provinces, as well as a number of displacement events elsewhere in the country. In August 2014 for example, some 500 people were reported displaced in Lembata, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), following inter-communal violence (Tempo, 18 August 2014). This was not included in the records of the BNPB.  

At the end of December 2014, BNPB reported that 2.6 million people had been displaced by natural hazard-related disasters in 2014 (Jakarta Post, 31 December 2014). However, available data from the BNPB database shows a much lower total, at 856,720 people (BNPB, January 2015).

Collecting data on protracted displacement is complicated by the fact that many of the conflicts that have led to large-scale displacement took place more than 15 years ago and that information on the whereabouts and needs of IDPs, returnees and those who locally integrated or settled elsewhere is often not available. There is also no monitoring of return or other settlement options or any assessment of the extent to which these have been sustainable. While a number of programs implemented in recent years by local and international agencies in provinces such as Aceh, Maluku and East Nusa Tenggara have made partial data available, in others such as North Maluku, Central Sulawesi and West and Central Kalimantan no data has been available since 2005.

Breakdown of IDP figures by provinces

  • North Sumatra: (Langkat): 530 households (3,000 people)
  • Maluku (Ambon & Seram): 1,123 households (5,400 people)
  • North Sulawesi (Bitung): 120 households (540 people)
  • East Nusa Tengarra (West Timor): 4,762 households (22,000 people)
  • West Nusa Tengarra (West Lombok): 37 households (161 people)
  • East Java (Sidoarjo): 72 households (343 people)

Most IDPs live in protracted displacement

Nearly all the 31,440 IDPs were displaced by inter-communal violence or insurgency-related violence between 1998 and 2004 and have since been unable or unwilling to return and have failed to re-establish their lives through local integration or settlement elsewhere. The majority are located in Aceh, Maluku and East Nusa Tenggara (in particular West Timor) provinces. Others live in North Sulawesi and North Sumatra. The estimate also includes a number of people displaced between 2007 and 2013 by attacks against religious minorities (West Nusa Tenggara and East Java provinces) and who have since failed to return.

IDPs included in the estimate live in both urban and rural areas, mostly in makeshift shelters or resettlement camps.

North Sumatra

In Langkat district, North Sumatra, where many ethnic Javanese who fled the Aceh conflict between 1999 and 2003 attempted to locally integrate and rebuild their lives, some 530 households, or some 3,000 people, living in Sei Lepan camp have been in a long-running land dispute with the local government (Medan Bisnis, 10 February 2015). The displaced are accused of encroaching on the protected Gunung Leuser National Park (BBTNGL, 22 March 2011).

Maluku and North Sulawesi

In Maluku, there are still some 1,123 households, or 5,400 individuals, displaced in the early 2000s who have since been living with host families and temporary settlements in four sub-districts (Buru, South Buru, central Maluku and West Seram) and who remain in need of assistance (IDMC interviews, May 2015).

In addition, some people may be displaced in the province as a result of more recent violence but their number is unknown. Sporadic violence has affected the province in recent years. In February 2012, some 4,000 people fled their village in Pelauw, Central Maluku, following intra-communal violence (AF, 22 February 2012). In 2014, a total of 311 people fled their homes in two separate conflict incidents in West Seram and Central maluku regencies between July and August (BNPB, April 2015).   

Many people who fled the conflict in neighbouring North Maluku headed for North Sulawesi where the majority settled permanently (Duncan, 2008, p.16). At least 418 families, or 1,918 people, have been living in 5 settlements since 2000 with lack of access to basic services and no tenure security (Habitat for Humanity, October 2012). During 2013 and 2014, some 270 households were provided with new homes and tenure security, leaving 120 families, or 540 people, still in need of assistance (Habitat for Humanity, interview, 6 May 2015).    

East Nusa Tenggara (West Timor)

From the estimated 113,000 people who chose to locally integrate in West Timor after they fled in 1999 from what is now Timor-Leste, some 22,000 continue to live in camps in and around the city of Kupang, requiring livelihood and shelter assistance (Jakarta Post, 17 January 2014).     

West Nusa Tenggara and East Java

Since 2011, growing religious intolerance has led to a rise in attacks by Islamist militants against religious minorities, sometimes resulting in their displacement (CWS, 14 February 2014;Setara Institute, 18 January 2014). In East Java, some 343 members of the Shia community evicted from their homes in Sampang regency in December 2011 and again in August 2012 remain displaced (IDMC, May 2015). In West Lombok Regency, West Nusa Tenggara, some 161 members of the Ahmadi Islamic movement displaced in 2006 have since not been able to return to their homes (IDMC interviews, May 2015). 

Papua and West Papua

In Papua, the long-running armed conflict between the Indonesian Armed Forces and the non-state armed group the Free Papua Movement – Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) has mainly displaced people living in remote rural areas. Tens of thousands have been displaced in the past 30 years, many fleeing towards Papua New Guinea settling in camps on both sides of the border (UNHCR, March 2006) where they remain today (JRS, 22 July 2013). In the absence of accurate data on how many are located on the Indonesian side they are not included in the estimate. The number of people still displaced in Papua and West Papua as a result of more recent military operations is unknown. As in previous years, several hundred people were displaced in 2014 and 2015 by military operations in the Central Highland region and in Timika, Mimika regency, but it is unknown whether they were all able to return (AWPA, 9 February 2014,The Guardian, 13 January 2015).

IDMC uses only the most credible accurate information available. Notwithstanding the caveats and limitations of the source information described above, IDMC believes this to be the best data and is grateful to the partners for sharing it.