1 Feb 2007

Concern about starvation in Papua amid strife

4:43 pm on 1 February 2007

There are fears that more people may die in Papua following the deaths of four refugees who fled an Indonesian military crackdown.

More than 3,000 people left their villages and are currently living in the Yamo district of the Puncak Jaya regency after soldiers and police attacked Free Papua Movement rebels.

A spokesperson from the human rights group, Elsham, says 5351 people are now facing starvation and illness in the Yamo district.

An Elsham representative, Paula Makabori, says she would like to see the police and military withdraw to enable people to return to their homes.

"It will happen like the year 2004 when 6,000 people in the same area became refugees in Puncak Jaya because of m,ilitary operations. 35 of them died because of starvation, and most of them were women and children,. If they keep starving like this, more lives will be taken."

Paula Makabori