20 Dec 2004

New Zealand Government called on to aid displaced people in Indonesian province of Papua

7:06 pm on 20 December 2004

A New Zealand group, the Indonesian Human Rights Committee, is calling on the New Zealand Government to make an immediate offer to help thousands made homeless by military action in the highlands of Papua province.

Churches have reported at least 23 people have died of starvation in recent weeks after the military began an offensive against suspected separatist groups in the Puncak Jaya region.

Human rights groups say that the military have burned down houses to deny shelter to members of the OPM or Free Papua Movement.

But the action has resulted in at least five thousand villagers fleeing to the jungle.

The Indonesian Human Rights Committee has written to New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff saying New Zealand should offer aid immediately and calling on President Yudhoyono to ensure the aid reaches the starving people.