Thousands displaced during latest violence in West Papua (priest)
Reports from West Papua say thousands of people have fled their homes into the jungle after the latest deadly violence in Maybrat regency.
Independence fighters from the West Papua Liberation Army have been accused of killing four Indonesian soldiers in an attack on a military post in Maybrat last week.
This is the latest violent attack in a series of attacks by the Liberation Army in its ongoing campaign against the Indonesian state in the Papua region.
As Indonesian security forces set out to search for the killers in Maybrat, many villagers feared they would be caught up in the armed conflict.
Reverend Bernadus Bovitwoss Baru, director of the Augustinian office for justice and peace in Sorong, said residents of at least fifteen villages fled to Maybat.
“So the many people there are now replaced, they have moved to the jungle because of the movement or the mobilization of the military to come,” he said, estimating that up to five thousand people had been displaced.
“They are worried, people are worried because they do not have government security.”
Reverend Bernadus said that in the coming days he and two other Papuan priests will travel to the affected region to speak with affected communities and urge the military to withdraw from the violence.
“So we want to meet with the chief of the military. We are going to talk with them, we just tell them that you do not do violence with people, with women and children.”
Other Papuan regencies where massive displacement has occurred in connection with violence involving the Liberation Army and Indonesian forces since 2018 include Intan Jaya, Puncak Jaya and Nduga.
The Liberation Army has previously warned civilians in some areas where it has declared war zones that their safety cannot be guaranteed.