09/26/2019, 10.14
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Papua: traumatized by violence, 5,000 internal migrants await evacuation

by Mathias Hariyadi

Three days ago, 30 people died in clashes in Wamena, including 27 civilians and three members of a separatist group. Anti-government protesters set some buildings, houses and shops on fire. The governor visits the displaced: "We are all Indonesians and in Indonesian territory".

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - They lost homes, shops and property in the fires lit by protesters and separatists: almost 5,000 internal migrants who had settled in Papua, in the easternmost region of Indonesia, are now waiting to be evacuated by the authorities in Wamena, in the regency of Jayawijaya.

Three days after the latest violence, the police revised the death toll up to 30 dead, including 27 civilians and three members of the National Committee for West Papua (Knpb ), a separatist movement founded in 2008.

Militants of the group had prepared a protest demonstration against "Jakarta racism" towards the Papuan population. The crowd burned down some buildings, houses and shops that belonged to the government and residents from other regions of the archipelago (photo 2).

The latest government figures reveal that the flames engulfed five government buildings, 80 cars, 30 mopeds and 150 commercial and residential activities.

Still traumatized, 5 thousand people are housed in at least four temporary reception facilities set up by the authorities following the incidents. They are waiting for the government to move them away from Wawena, to their hometown or to other parts of the country.

"I want to go back to my home because our lives are at risk in Wamena, after the fires destroyed all my belongings," says Sibuea, a migrant from North Sumatera. The woman is trying to find tickets for a military flight. "I have nothing left, except the clothes I am wearing now," she says, adding that she could only bring some personal documents to safety.

The governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, yesterday attempted to bring comfort to the displaced in an impromptu visit to Wamena. "I sincerely hope that only sick women and their children leave the city. I expect others to stay here. We are all Indonesians and in Indonesian territory," the governor said.

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