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Measles kill dozens of children in Papua, government sends military

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Illustration malnutrition among Asmat children – IST

Jakarta, Jubi – Indonesian authorities are struggling to contain a months-long outbreak of measles in easternmost Papua province that has killed dozens of children.

Stefanus Lange, a doctor at a state-run hospital in Papua’s Asmat district, said Tuesday (January 16) that cases were first detected in September, but a lack of access to remote areas, insufficient personnel and the high mobility of villagers hampered treatment and vaccination efforts.

Lange said 36 victims died in Pulau Tiga sub-district and 22 died in Agats, the main town and capital of Asmat district. He did not rule out the possibility of a higher number of victims since reports have not been received from some sub-districts.

Papua and neighboring West Papua are the poorest provinces in Indonesia and home to a decades-old independence movement and armed insurgency. The region is culturally and ethnically distinct from the rest of Indonesia, which annexed it in the early 1960s.

Data from hospitals showed a total of 568 people had been treated for measles since September and 175 required hospitalizations.

The data also showed that one child died in Pulau Tiga of malnutrition, which has plagued some villages in the district.

More than 50 doctors and paramedics from Indonesia’s military have gone to Papua province to battle a measles outbreak that has killed dozens of children. They carry food and vaccines to a remote part of the area.

The Indonesian military has sent 53 personnel including paramedics, besides medical equipment, vaccines and 11,100 packages of instant food.

Map of Asmat Regency – IST

Malnutrition and slow response

“We are handling the situation,” Health Minister Nila Moeloek told Reuters, blaming similar previous incidents on several factors.

“There is a link between the malnutrition and (catching) other diseases,” Moeloek added. “If you’re undernourished, you will get those diseases.”

The ministry said it was still trying to estimate the number of deaths but daily newspaper Kompas on Monday said at least 61 infants had died.

Many Papuans, who are predominantly Christian and a minority in the Muslim-majority country, criticise the government in Jakarta for neglecting Papua and instead being too focused on the densely-populated island of Java.

Catholic priest and rights activist John Jonga, blamed the crisis on a lack of vaccinations and a switch from more nutritious tubers to rice as a staple food.

He said he had voiced questions over Widodo’s policy of sending aid to Palestine and Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority, rather than to Papua at a recent seminar at the Indonesia Institute of Sciences in Jakarta, the capital.

“We are lacking health facilities,” Jonga said. “That’s why in the seminar I asked why the president was busy with Myanmar and building a hospital in Gaza. Whereas in Papua, we have problems, difficulties with drugs and medical workers.”

Head of Communication and Community Services Bureau of Health Ministry – IST

One minister denied the extent of the health crisis had taken the government by surprise.

“We have anticipated this since September 2017,” Puan Maharani, the coordinating minister for human development, told reporters.

“The location in Asmat is not easy to monitor. We have asked the health ministry to coordinate for this (health crisis) to be evaluated.”

But as reported by Aljazeera (December 17), Oscar Primadi, Head of Communication and Community Services Bureau of Health Ministry has admitted it has been too slow to respond to a health crisis in the eastern province of Papua.

“But we need to focus on how we have to deal it right now,” he said to reporter.(AP/Reuters/Aljazeera/Zely A)

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ULMWP plans peaceful movements in seven indigenous territories

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United Liberation Movement for West Papua Action Committee (ULMWP) team – Jubi / Hengky Yeimo

Jayapura, Jubi – ULMWP going to hold peaceful demonstrations in seven indigenous territories of West Papua on 24 – 28 September 2018.

Ice Murib, the spokesperson of action committee for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), stated in a press conference held in the Papuan Customary Council, Expo Waena on Wednesday (08/19/2018).

The central theme is to give full support to Vanuatu and other Pacific countries to address the issue of West Papua to the UN General Assembly 2019.

“We will conduct a peaceful movement in indigenous territories of Mamta and Animha on 24 September 2018 centred in Hollandia (Jayapura), whereas the same activities in other regions will be on the following dates,” said Murib.

Murib further said the delegations of ULMWP and Vanuatu are going to attend the 73rd UN General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. So far, Vanuatu has made a resolution enforcing the rights of self-determination for West Papua to be submitted at the hearing.

“They will also mobilise support from other countries to promote self-determination for West Papua,” continued Murib.

For this reason, he appealed to all people including students, civil servants and those who are care of independence to participate in the movement. “You can do whatever you want to celebrate it. Pray, do orations, give speeches and so on.”

In Jayapura, the rally will start from different points namely Expo, Lingkaran Abe and Dok V and then the mass will gather at Perumnas 3 Waena. (*)

Reporter: Hengky Yeimo

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Papua Governor: No more conflicts in Puncak Jaya

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Illustration of Mulia City, Puncak Jaya Regency. – Jubi / Doc

Jayapura, Jubi – Papua Governor Lukas Enembe said Puncak Jaya District there should not be a stigma for Puncak Jaya District as a conflict area because it is not a killing field. In contrary, this area is safe and peaceful.

“I governed this region once, so I know what people want. For that reason, I ask the local government officials to be able to take care of the community so to avoid more conflicts,” told Enembe to reporters on Thursday (09/13/2018) at the Office of the Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP).

Furthermore, the governor said to avoid conflicts between different tribes and groups; the government officials should not also act to represent their personal or group interests.

Separately, Papua Police Deputy Chief the Brigadier General Yakoubus Marjuki said that the police always try to use a subtle approach to solve conflicts in Papua.

“This is our commitment because we want every region in Papua to always be safe and peaceful including in Puncak Jaya.” (*)

 


Reporter: Roy Ratumakin

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Jayapura presents Tanah Merah Maritime Festival in November

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The coastal indigenous dance performed at the Tanah Merah Maritime Festival last year. – Jubi / Engel Wally

Sentani, Jubi – the Local government of Jayapura District started a campaign introducing the Maritime Festival of Tanah Merah (FBTM) that will be held from 19 to 21 November 2018 in Entiyebo, Tablanusu Village, Depapre Sub-district.

FBFM, which held in 2014 for the first time, is part of the annual tourism agenda of the local government along with the Lake Sentani Festival.

The Acting Head of Culture and Tourism Office of Jayapura District Benyamin Yerisetouw said his office has campaigned about this event to some village heads and community leaders in the five coastal sub-districts within the district.

“Our target is, by 19 to 21 November, all communities can participate in this event, in particular, those from the coastal areas, as well as domestic and international tourists,” Yerisetouw explained when met in his office on Friday (9/14/2018).

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Indonesian Commerce of Chamber and Industry of Jayapura District Hengky Yoku said the economic development of the local community relies on its potential resources.

“This area has many activities which can promote the cultural history of the local community. When this comes in forms of festival or performance, there is an economic value that resulted from transactions of local community and visitors who attend the event.” (*)

 


Reporter: Engel Wally

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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