West Papuan refugees moved away from Blackwater camp


On 2 May, the Papua New Guinea authorities began to airlift West Papuan refugees out of Blackwater camp near Vanimo in an operation designed to empty the camp as fast as possible. The refugees were all transferred to
Kiunga in Western Prov:irx:e for re-location to East Aw in, the only area where re-locatiai camps have been set up for refugees who have flooded into Papua New Guinea since February 1984.

The evacuation of Blackwater followed a preposterous claim by the Indcnesians that the Blackwater refugees were responsible for an attack on a transmigration site in West Papua on 11 March (see separate item). The
evacuatial Wa9 cani.edout by a two-hundred-man squad of P NG EX>l.ioamen and PNG Defence Force troops, with police dogs. In a highly charged atmosphere, the refugees were told to register for re-location and had little option but to comply. Within the limits of itS remit, the UN
High Commission fbr Refu~es (UNHCR) could cb little more than urge the PNG auth:>rities mt to use violence. By 15 May, about eight hundred refugees had been removed, leaving a group of ten who refused to move. It
was not clear at the time of going to press what would happen to them.

143 refugees from Biak who left Blackwater camp some time ago and set themselves up nearby in Wara Stone were apparently not included at this stage of the evacuation. PNG politician Warren Dutton, the Justice Minister in the first Paias Wingti government, has condemned the relocation of Blackwater refugees to East A win, believing that it was taken under strong Indonesian pressure to remove active OPM supporters from an area close to Jayapura and the scene of intense OPM activity.

The evacuation took pla:=e despite representations last year by Black.water refugees not to be moved to East Awin. In a declaration in March 1987, Blackwater camp refugees rejected the idea going to an inland site. They
are coastal people who would find it diffirult to integrate with inlaoo people.

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