Senin, 17 September 2012

Analysis: Aid access challenges for Indonesia's Papua region

Many indigenous Papuans feel marginalized
JAKARTA, 17 September 2012 (IRIN) - Aid agencies in Indonesia's Papua region say their work is coming under increased government scrutiny due to Jakarta's concern over a secessionist movement on the island.

"So many international aid groups working in Papua have been pushed out by the government," Andreas Harsono, a researcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW) who has been covering Indonesia for years, told IRIN, citing a string of NGOs and charity groups, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), that have had to leave.

"They can maintain a presence if they work with the government, but if they give aid directly to Papuans or Papuan organizations, aid groups will be heavily scrutinized by the government and suspected of aiding the independence movement."

The resource-rich Papua region (2,000km east of Jakarta and comprising the provinces of Papua and West Papua) has the lowest levels of human development of Indonesia's 33 provinces, with about 34 percent of Papuans living on less than US$1 per day, according to government statistics. The region has a land area nearly twice that of the UK but a population of only 3.5 million.

"There are multiple issues facing West Papua and Papua today," said Dini Sari Djalal, head of communications at the World Bank's Jakarta office. "Among the most vital are poverty, maternal mortality and HIV/AIDS. The two provinces rank worst in these indicators in all of Indonesia."

At the same time, the region is prone to a host of natural disasters, one of the most recent being a 6.1 magnitude quake on 8 September recorded off the coast of Nabire, Papua.

"In the West Papuan cities of Manokwari and Sorong, earthquakes are recorded on a fairly regular basis as is flooding," said Phillip Charlesworth, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies head of delegation for Indonesia.

But it is Papua's decades-long simmering separatist movement that has often dominated international media attention.

Although the government granted the region Special Autonomy status in 2001, activists continue to voice their discontent, calling for greater autonomy to help improve the region's socioeconomic problems.

Native Papuans are benefiting neither from the land and forests exploited by outside timber and palm oil companies, nor the region's immense mineral wealth, including gold, copper and other metals, they say.

This summer, the International Crisis Group reported at least 15 violent incidents in the provincial capital Jayapura in May and June, and others in the central highlands.

Since the former Dutch colony was annexed in 1969, a small armed group known as the Free Papua Organization (OPM) has been fighting for Papuan independence.

Human rights groups estimate some 100,000 Papuans have died in the conflict since the 1960s, while local media regularly report on clashes between the OPM and security forces.

Economic marginalization, coupled with an ongoing influx of labour migrants from elsewhere in Indonesia continues to fuel tension, particularly over the issue of jobs.

In many of the region's cities and towns, non-native Papuans are now in a majority, and tensions between the two groups are not uncommon, as are reports of the government's often heavy-handed response towards the indigenous population.

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