Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2018, 14:34 GMT

Global Overview 2011: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Indonesia

Publisher Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC)
Publication Date 19 April 2012
Cite as Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC), Global Overview 2011: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Indonesia, 19 April 2012, available at: [accessed 19 February 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Quick facts
Number of IDPsUp to 180,000
Percentage of total populationUp to 0.1%
Start of current displacement situation1999
Peak number of IDPs (Year)1,400,000 (2002)
New displacementAbout 15,000
Causes of displacementArmed conflict, deliberate policy or practice of arbitrary displacement, generalised violence, human rights violations
Human development index124

During 2011, thousands of people were newly displaced in Indonesia, by renewed inter-communal violence in Maluku and East Java provinces and by operations targeting rebels of the Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka or OPM) in Papua province. In Maluku, as many as 500 homes in the capital Ambon were destroyed in September by fighting between Christians and Muslims; over 3,000 people were displaced, some losing their homes for the fourth time in 12 years. In East Java in December, over 300 members of a Shi'ite Muslim minority on Madura Island were driven from their homes, before being forced to return without any security guarantees.

In Papua, an unknown number of people were displaced between April and December in the central highlands region of Puncak Jaya. The largest displacement took place in mid-December in Paniai regency, where 10,000 people were reportedly forced from their homes. Many IDPs were reported to have taken refuge in the jungle to escape violence at the hands of the security forces. The limited access to the area made it difficult to assess their needs and provide assistance.

Meanwhile, in several provinces, durable solutions remained elusive for tens of thousands of IDPs. Many of them had first been displaced more than ten years before by inter-communal violence opposing different ethnic or religious groups, or by separatist struggles between rebel groups and the country's security forces. For many, the assistance they had received had not enabled them to overcome their displacement.

They continued to face economic and social marginalisation, and they were still unable to assert their ownership or tenancy rights over land and property.

In Maluku, before violence erupted again in 2011, it was estimated that as many as 30,000 people displaced between 1999 and 2004 were still in need of assistance.

In Aceh province, five years after a 30-year armed conflict between government forces and Acehnese separatists ended, up to 146,000 people had not yet managed to return to their homes or to sustainably resettle or integrate elsewhere. Most of them were ethnic Javanese migrants who had been forced to leave by Acehnese rebels, and still feared for their safety should they return. In many cases, displaced people had returned to their home areas, only to find their situation worsen due to the damage to infrastructure and property and the lack of social services and economic opportunities there. Most IDPs had received no specific assistance since the end of the conflict.

In West Timor, the main challenges were related to lack of land ownership and livelihood opportunities. Most "new citizens" were living in resettlement sites to which they had been moved since 2003, after the state withdrew their IDP or refugee status. Many of them had bought land on credit which they were now unable to pay off, as they had not received the government assistance they expected. In addition, several thousand people were still living in emergency camps around Kupang, where they had little access to basic necessities. Few people from East Timor had returned to their homes there since 2001, although the number had increased since 2009.

Displacement was also ongoing in Central Sulawesi, almost ten years after the conflict there had ended. There were no reliable estimates as data on IDPs had not been updated since 2006, but in 2009, the National Human Rights Commission reported that "several thousand people" remained displaced in Poso regency. In 2011, provincial government officials recognised that land and property issues affecting IDPs were still largely unresolved.

Since 2004, the government has officially considered the various internal displacement situations resolved, even though corruption, poor coordination and limited local capacity have stopped a large number of IDPs receiving the assistance they needed to recover. However, the government has continued to provide assistance to both IDPs and host communities in regions where significant numbers have remained displaced.

Since 2007, central government funding has been discontinued and responsibility for IDPs has been transferred to provincial and district authorities. The National Disaster Management Agency has long-term responsibility for people displaced by natural disasters and "social conflicts", while the Ministry of Social Affairs is responsible for providing relief during emergencies.

In recent years, the UN has mainly addressed the needs of IDPs through community-level reintegration and development projects aimed at improving livelihoods opportunities for the most vulnerable members of the population. A small number of international NGOs, most of them with funding from the EU, have maintained programmes supporting resettlement and livelihood programmes for IDPs in a number of provinces, including Maluku, Central Sulawesi and West Timor.

Search Refworld