Papua and Jakarta, 12 August 2023. The impacts of climate change are now being felt by the world’s population. Cold weather and extreme rainfall, hot weather and drought, along with ecological disasters, floods, landslides, pest disturbances, and so on, are devastating people’s lives one after another. The climate crisis has also led to economic problems, harvest failure, forest and land fires, increased health problems, hunger and malnutrition, ecosystem damage, suffering and death.
In July 2023, the national media reported about the hardships experienced by residents in Agandungume, Lembewi and Oneri Districts, Puncak Regency, Central Papua Province, in acquiring and obtaining food. Fields, hamlets and food crops in the villages are undergoing drought and harvest failure, with no rain and in low temperatures. They are forced to relocate and walk in poor condition to obtain food aid.
We, of the civil society organizations Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat, FIAN Indonesia, Greenpeace Indonesia and Petrus Vertenten MSC Center Papua, Perkumpulan Harmoni Alam Papuana, LBH PAPUA Pos Merauke, SKP of Agats-Asmat Diocese, have convened and heard the complaints regarding the poor situation, difficulties and food and clean water crises which occurred and are experienced by the indigenous peoples in Malind, Kaptel and Eligobel Districts, Merauke Regency; the indigenous peoples in Kepi, Obaa and Manjemur regions, Mappi Regency; and Fayit District in Asmat Regency, all of which are located in South Papua Province.
It has been difficult for the people to obtain clean water, which is also expensive, the fields and food crops have been subject to drought, crop yields are below the target and are insufficient for family food needs. The activity of sago harvesting in the hamlets has stopped due to the drought, and the game animals are migrating further into the forest. The people are experiencing hardships in fulfilling food and water from hamlets and forests that are far from the village. The river water is dry and the rivers are impassable. Swamps and rivers are also in poor condition, unhealthy and allegedly polluted, thus the people avoid them and are unable to consume the river water.
We have also been monitoring and found hotspots which may result in and/or have led to forest and land fires in Papua. The Modis and Viirs satellite image monitoring on the website https://map.nusantara-atlas.org in the last 14 days (23 July – 11 August 2023) found 2,270 hotspots throughout the Land of Papua, the majority of which are located in South Papua Province, namely 1,910 hotspots. The highest number of hotspots by regency is in Merauke Regency, namely 1,576 hotspots, as well as 302 hotspots in Mappi. The districts with more than 100 hotspots include Okaba, Sota, Naukenjerai, Kimaam, Tabonji, Waan, Tanah Miring Districts, Merauke Regency, and Obaa District, Mappi Regency.
Hotspots have also been found in the concession areas of oil palm plantation companies, PT Agriprima Cipta Persada, PT Internusa Jaya Sejahtera and PT Hardaya Sawit Plantation, in Merauke Regency, and in the concession areas of Industrial Plantation Forest companies, PT Selaras Inti Semesta and PT Plasma Nutfah Marind Papua in Merauke Regency.
The events of drought, food insecurity and forest fire will result in hardships, conflicts, environmental damage, ecological disasters, and even death, which may lead to potential violations of human rights. Regulatory provisions stipulate that every person has the right to a proper and safe environment, this is the main prerequisite for fulfilling the right to life, the right to food, and a number of fundamental rights in human rights as emphasized in Article 9 of Law Number 39 Year 1999 regarding Human Rights. The state assumes the obligation to ensure that every citizen and all organizations and institutions in Indonesia protect the environment.
The state is also obligated to encourage mitigation against damage and threats to the environment as part of the state’s obligations to protect, respect and fulfill the human rights of its citizens. The fulfillment of the state’s obligations is manifested in its responsibility to assume an active role in the treatment, rehabilitation and recovery of the victims affected by forest, land, water and air degradation as well as carrying out law enforcement against perpetrators of environmental destruction.
We, leaders of civil society organizations, urge and request that the national government, South Papua government and the regency governments in South Papua region, immediately take effective, rapid response and emergency measures to save and fulfill the rights of indigenous peoples affected by the climate crisis and food shortage, by way of providing programs of proper and easily accessible food assistance, as well as fulfilling the people’s basic needs based on innovations in the food knowledge of indigenous peoples, in an orderly and sustainable manner.
We urge the regency regional governments in the South Papua Province region, district governments and village administrations, to work together with leaders of district-level religious organizations, Parishes, Chapelries and Church Councils, to protect the forests which are rich and contain a variety of foods, and to immediately anticipate food emergencies as well as forest and land fires that occur in affected areas, by opening food service and emergency response posts, as channels for sharing information and providing proper and healthy food assistance.
We urge the national government, as well as provincial and regency regional governments in the Land of Papua, to respect, protect and advance the indigenous peoples’ knowledge and food systems, safeguard land and forests as the people’s food sources, protect and empower the indigenous peoples’ food businesses, business organizations, technological innovations, provision of capital and markets, in a sustainable manner.
We urge the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to conduct investigation into the allegations of land and forest fires that occurred in the concession areas of oil palm plantation companies and industrial tree plantations in Merauke Regency, and to endeavor towards law enforcement and order.
Franky Samperante, Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat: 0813 1728 6019
Betty Nababan, FIAN Indonesia: 0816 103 461
Harry Woersok, Petrus Vertenten MSC Center: 0812 4080 8786
Iqbal Damanik, Greenpeace Indonesia: 0811 444 5026
Dewanto Talubun, Perkumpulan Harmoni Alam Papuana: 0852 5474 9321
Teddy Wakum, LBH PAPUA Pos Merauke: 0822 4245 0431