Banten governor vows evacuation of his people from Papua

Banten governor vows evacuation of his people from Papua

A mother carrying her baby queued to get aboard an Air Force's Hercules cargo plane that would fly them from Wamena to Timika, Papua on Tuesday (Oct 1, 2019). ANTARA/Evarianus Supar/aa/sh

Serang, Banten (ANTARA) - Banten Governor Wahidin Halim made a solemn promise to evacuate the province’s 16 people residing in Papua and keen to return to their hometowns due to security risk and trauma following the deadly Wamena rioting.

"I have ordered those from the provincial administration's national unity and political affairs and disaster mitigation agency to pick them up in Papua," he informed journalists after attending a meeting in Serang, Banten Province, on Tuesday.

As the governor, Halim will protect his people, including those currently residing in Papua Province, Halim noted.

"I have received a report that some 16 residents of Banten are currently residing in Papua Province," he remarked, adding that the evacuation process of those intending to return to Banten from Papua will be financed by the provincial government.

Responding to the governor's order, Acting Head of the Banten Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) Kusmayadi confirmed to have promptly coordinated and consulted with Papua's related authorities to gauge the security situation in the province.

"If they must be evacuated, we are taking them home," Kusmayadi emphasized.

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During the course of the past weeks, a circle of violence erupted in various cities in the provinces of Papua and West Papua. On September 23, a deadly riot broke out in Wamena during a massive protest, triggered by fake news on a teacher's racist slurs against local students.

A total of 33 people, including a medical doctor, were killed, while at least 77 others sustained injuries in the riot that also compelled several thousand residents, mostly non-native Papuans, to take shelter in the local military and police compounds.

The dead and wounded comprised non-native Papuans, who were assaulted by rioters brandishing machetes and arrows. Several of them had migrated to Papua from their hometowns in provinces, such as West Sumatra and South Sulawesi, to earn a living.

On Tuesday (Oct 1), Papua Police Chief Inspector General Paulus Waterpauw had visited the survivors of the deadly Wamena riot, currently sheltered at Al Aqsa Mosque in Sentani, the capital city of Jayapura District.

Waterpauw requested them to return to Wamena, the capital city of Jayawijaya District, Papua Province, as the police will guarantee their security.

"Please get back to Wamena since we safeguard and protect the security of all residents," Waterpauw told 115 displaced residents of Wamena taking refuge at the Al Aqsa Mosque.

Waterpauw showed empathy in his approach to them, affirming that he fully understood the trauma and anxiety experienced by the survivors of the recent brutal killings of innocent civilians in Wamena on September 23.

Several survivors of the Wamena riot fled in a mass exodus over trepidation and concern.

"However, please do not allow fear and trauma to linger too long within you since the security personnel are ready to secure against all forms of disturbances," Waterpauw, who officially headed the Papua police headquarters since Sept 30, emphasized.

At present, normalcy has gradually been restored in Wamena, he added.

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