The main drivers of displacement in Indonesia are natural disasters, development projects, conflict and violence. In the early 2000s, the country experienced large-scale displacement caused by inter-ethnic and inter-religious unrest in several provinces, including Maluku, North Maluku, West and Central Kalimantan and Central Sulawesi. Displacement were also caused by separatist violence in Aceh, Papua and Timor. It is estimated that nearly 3 million people were forced from their home between 1998 and 2001.

While the majority managed to return to their homes in the following years, tens of thousands remained unable to do so due to security concerns, the destruction of their homes or of their livelihoods. The government did assist many to return home while others were encouraged to integrate locally of settle elsewhere. In most cases, government assistance proved insufficient and a large number of IDPs ended up living in limbo in resettlement camps, impoverished and without any hopes of achieving durable solutions.

Today, displacement continues to occur throughout the country but it remains small-scale and localised. The latest available figures (from 2015) showed that 31’000 people were internally displaced in the country. These figures do not include displacement in Papua and West Papua provinces, the only areas of the country where conflict is still active. For more information on displacement in Indonesia, please read “Indonesia: Concerted efforts needed to find solutions for protracted IDPs”, a report I wrote in August 2015 while working for IDMC.

The majority of the displaced are located in West Timor province, where it is estimated that 22’000 people are living in up to 4 camps with little access to basic services, adequate housing, land and tenure security. For more information, please read “Forgotten displacement: why it’s time to address the needs of West Timor’s protracted IDPs“, a blog I wrote on the issue in July 2015.


Aceh and Maluku provinces (2007)

West Timor, East Java and West Nusa Tenggara provinces (2015)