Thursday, April 4, 2013

1) Conflicting Claims in West Papuan Deaths

1) Conflicting Claims in West Papuan Deaths

2) NGO presses govt to investigate death of 95 Papuans

1) Conflicting Claims in West Papuan Deaths
Robert Isidorus & Dina Manafe | April 05, 2013
Activists in West Papua province say that up to 95 people have died of hunger in Tambrauw district since last November, with hundreds more still at risk. 

Frits Bernard Kamuki Ramandey, the acting secretary of the Papua office of the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM), said on Wednesday night that it was inconceivable how the authorities had allowed people to starve to death. 

“Obviously the local authorities have let the situation get out of control,” he said. 

“How can so many people be suffering from this? This is no natural disaster.” 

He added that Komnas HAM had recorded 95 deaths in the subdistrict of Kwor between November last year and the end of March this year. 

Gabriel, the Tambrauw district chief, acknowledged that there was a malnutrition problem in the area, but refuted Komnas HAM’s figure, saying that only 15 people had died during that period. 

He said he had ordered medical teams to visit the affected subdistrict and was preparing to evacuate residents to other areas where they would have better access to medical care and food. 

Very little is known about the current situation in Kwor, with the few reports coming out of the remote and isolated community suggesting that the area is in the grip of some sort of epidemic causing people to die of malnutrition. 

Bovit Bofar, a rights activist who was one of the few people to visit the area, said the mystery illness was taking a particularly heavy toll because of the lack of health care services in the affected villages. 

“The villages that have been hit are deep in the hinterland, and there’s no way for them to communicate with outside communities,” he said. 

He said that the worst-hit area was the village of Baddei, where 45 people were reported to have died and another 250 people have fallen ill. In Kosefo village, 35 are dead and 75 sick, while in Jokjoker, 15 people have died and 210 are ill, Bovit said. 

However, the Health Ministry has attributed the illnesses and deaths to a range of problems endemic to the region, including malaria, food scarcity and lack of proper hygiene and sanitation. 

Murti Utami, a spokeswoman for the ministry, said in Surabaya on Thursday that health officials were headed to the district to identify the cause of the illnesses and gauge the true extent of the problem. 

She also refuted the high death toll posited by the activists.

2) NGO presses govt to investigate death of 95 Papuans

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Paper Edition | Page: 5
A non-governmental organization (NGO), National Papua Solidarity (NAPAS), urged the government to investigate the cause of death of 95 people in Tambrauw regency, West Papua, saying that the Health Ministry neglected Papuans in remote areas.

Previously, the Sorong Raya chapter of Nusantara Traditional Community Alliance (AMAN) reported that as many as 95 people in Tambrauw died after failing to receive medical care.

In Baddei village 45 out of a total 250 sick residents have died, in Jokjober village 15 of its 210 sick people are now dead and in Kosefa village 35 of the 75 sick villagers did not recover.

“The lack of healthcare in the three villages has meant sick residents eventually die,” Sorong Raya chapter AMAN head Konstan Magablo cited, adding that the residents suffered from symptoms such as headache, high fever and skin irritation.

He said that since 2010, due to a lack of personnel, the three villages’ puskesmas (community health centers) had ceased providing healthcare to residents.

NAPAS activist Zely Ariane said that a team from NAPAS had confirmed the regency’s death toll.

The West Papua Health Agency responded to the contrary, according to Health Ministry spokesperson, Murti Utami, between October 2012 and March this year only 15 people had died in Tambrauw.

Minarto, the Health Ministry’s nutrition management director, said the causes of death were skin diseases and anemia.

West Papua Health Office head Otto Parorrongan also denied the number of deaths, saying that he received reports of five individuals — two women and three children — succumbing to various illnesses.

Zely from NAPAS accused the government of neglecting Papuans.

“The total of population in Tambrauw is only around 2,200 people, so even if the number of people who died is 15 that is still a big number and the ministry should investigate the cause,” Zely said on Thursday.

“The ministry should distribute health workers to this area because apparently no health workers are available,” she added referring to the lack of doctors and nurses at puskesmas.

“It is [no excuse to say the] areas are too difficult to reach, because they [the ministry] really should have the equipment to reach the area and help the people,” Zely continued.

Otto, however, denied the accusation, saying that a medical team, made up of two doctors, a nurse, two midwives and a sanitary worker, had been dispatched from the Tambrauw regency health office on March 26 to the reported villages.

“The medical team was airlifted to Jokjober due to poor overland access, which could take three days travel, the team was later picked up by helicopter,” said Otto, adding that the residents suffered from anemia, skin diseases and

He said that the current situation in the villages had improved since medical workers had provided healthcare.

Minarto from the health ministry said that his office would dispatch a group of seven to distribute the support needed, including food and medicine.

He added that the team would not solely check on the health of the people in the regency, but to also investigate the cause of the diseases and determine whether it was due to improper sanitation, environment or food.

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