displaced people of puncak
The displaced people of escalated armed conflict in Puncak in the Bilogai Catholic Church’s yard in Intan Jaya. Courtesy of Jubi.

Puncak regent tells displaced people to return home but no guarantee of safety


Jayapura, Jubi – Puncak regent Willem Wandik has asked the displaced people in Puncak’s capital city of Ilaga to return to their villages. On Thursday, July 8, 2021, the administration held a pig gallstone-burning ceremony, a ceremony marking the end of the war in the Papuan tradition. However, the regent’s call is criticized as there is no clear mechanism that guarantees the safety of the return.


Head of the Puncak Social Agency Peniel Wakerkwa admitted the regent’s appeal was not well-planned. “The regent only told [the displaced people] to go home without arranging a certain mechanism for returning these people to their hometowns,” Wakerkwa told Jubi in a phone call on Sunday.


According to Wakerkwa, the reason behind the call to return the displaced people home was because food aid and other assistance were limited and running low.



“Because there is no more assistance for the displaced people. Therefore, the regent ordered the people to return to their hometowns,” he said.


Read also: ‘War’ is over: Puncak regent sends displaced people home in ‘burning bezoar’ ceremony


Meanwhile, a resident of Ilaga, Tanus Tabuni said that the government should have set up a plan to return the displaced people.


“Don’t just tell them to go home. A well-planned concept will help people arrive at their hometowns safely,” he said.


He added that if the administration did not have a plan, they should not return the displaced people because there was no guarantee of their safety.


“Especially because in some villages, there are still the Indonesian Military [TNI] and police and the West Papua National Liberation Army [TPNPB] that it is not quite safe for the people to return home in the near future,” he said.


Read also: 653 residents flee home to West Papua’s Ilaga while thousands go to the forests


Tabuni further questioned the security guarantee once the people return to the villages. “I hope the government thinks carefully about the security and safety of the people in the villages,” he said.


The Puncak administration has recorded more than 600 displaced people in Ilaga while thousands of more people went to the forests, leaving their villages due to escalated armed conflict between the security forces and the TPNPB since April.


Reporter: Hengky Yeimo

Editor: Kristianto Galuwo

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