Fighting between security forces and members of the West Papua Liberation Army has reportedly escalated in Papua province since December 2018. On Wednesday, February 20, the Humanitarian Volunteers for Nduga, a local NGO, and local educational officials said that over 400 students have been forced to evacuate from Nduga district into neighboring districts due to the increase in violence. Security forces intensified operations in the region in December after militants killed 16 government-linked workers who were building bridges and roads in Papua province. According to military officials, at least two soldiers have also been killed since December. Local activists and residents are accusing the military of violent reprisals, including arson, harassment, the killing of livestock, and extrajudicial executions. Around 1000 residents in Nduga have also reportedly been displaced in recent weeks. Further violence in Papua province is possible in the near term.
Papuan independence fighters, known as the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), have engaged in an ongoing low-level guerrilla rebellion since Indonesian independence in the 1960s.
Individuals in Indonesia are advised to remain vigilant and exercise caution when traveling to Papua and West Papua, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities (e.g. travel permits) and home governments, and avoid all public demonstrations. Travel to Papua and West Papua requires a permit and many Western governments advise against nonessential travel the provinces due to the threat of civil unrest and violence.
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