Air Force to return Wamena refugees home aboard Hercules aircraft

Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU) is prepped to offer air transportation to residents, who had fled Wamena following the riot on Sept 23, to return to the capital of Jayawijaya District in Papua Province.

The TNI AU is prepared to ply its Hercules aircraft for the transportation of refugees keen on returning home after the security situation in Wamena has become increasingly conducive, Commander of the Silar Papare Airbase Commodore Tri Bowo Budi Santoso stated on Monday. However, Santoso pointed out that refugees had yet to register with the TNI AU to return to Wamena.

He drew attention to the fact that following the Sept-23 riot, the TNI AU Hercules aircraft had transported some 10 thousand refugees out of Wamena, most of whom were flown to Sentan, the capital of Jayapura District, Papua.

"Most refugees were flown to Jayapura, while the others to Merauke and Timika," he revealed.

Santoso confirmed that two Hercules aircraft are on standby to offer support to the Indonesian military (TNI) chief in Papua rather than for the transportation of refugees.

Deadly riots simmered in Wamena at a rally that native Papuan students had held on Sept. 23.

Some 33 people were killed, while at least 77 others had sustained injuries in the riot that also left several thousand residents, mostly non-native Papuans, with no choice but to take shelter in the local military and police compounds.

The dead and wounded comprised non-native Papuans, who were assaulted by rioters brandishing machetes and arrows. Several of them had migrated to Papua from their hometowns in provinces, such as West Sumatra and South Sulawesi, to earn a living.

Chief of Information Service of the Cenderawasih Regional Military Command Lt Col Eko Daryanto has called on refugees to return home in the face of the increasingly conducive situation and normalization of economic activities in Wamena.

"The Sept-23 riot forced tens of thousands of residents to take refuge at 34 command posts. However, one week after the riot broke out, the situation and condition in Wamena has begun to become conducive," he had stated in Jayapura last Thursday.

Daryanto pegged the count of Wamena residents taking refuge in Jayapura crossing eight thousand, while tens of thousands of refugees were being accommodated in command posts in Wamena.

Some 220 refugees had returned to their hometowns in other provinces owing to the cold weather in Wamena City, with several of them reportedly suffering from diarrhea and acute respiratory tract infection, he stated.

Source: ANTARA News

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