Development environment


Mid-year update 2017 (January - June)

New displacements (Conflict and violence) IDMC (1 January - 30 June 2017)
New displacements (Disasters) IDMC (1 January - 30 June 2017)

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Country Information

Population UN Population Division (as of 2017)
Total number of IDPs (Conflict and violence) IDMC (as of 31 December 2017)
New displacements (Conflict and violence) IDMC (1 January - 31 December 2017)
New displacements (Disasters) IDMC (1 January - 31 December 2016)
Refugees UNHCR (as of 2016)

Conflict and violence displacement figures

Latest GRID confidence assessment

Displacement type IDPs (Stock) New Displacement (Flow)
Reporting units People
Methodology Key informants
Media monitoring
Geographical disaggregation Subnational - admin 1 Subnational - admin 1
Geographical coverage No No
Frequency of reporting Other Other
Disaggregation on sex No No
Disaggregation on age No No
Data triangulation Some local triangulation Some local triangulation
Data on settlement elsewhere No No
Data on returns No No
Data on local integration No No
Data on deaths No No
Data on births No No

Latest GRID figures analysis

IDMC conservative estimate is due to the lack of a single reference by government or otherwise on conflict-related displacement in Indonesia. A majority of IDPs were displaced by inter-communal violence or insurgency-related violence between 1998 and 2004 and have since been unable or unwilling to return and have failed to re-establish their lives. IDMC’s estimate also includes people displaced between 2007 and 2013 by attacks against religious minorities and who have since failed to return, as well as those forcibly evicted due to land conflicts. Furthermore, figures also include displacement due to long-running separatist conflict in Papua in addition to election violence from this year.

Download extended figures analysis (PDF, 48 KB)

Latest GRID stock figure by year of data update

Disaster displacement figures

New displacements

Events timeline


Affected by years of conflict and violence, Indonesia is a disaster-prone archipelago that has grown to be the world’s largest producer of palm oil. Religious intolerance, separatist movements, weak land rights, deforestation, economic development, high disaster risk and rapid urbanisation have contributed to land dispossession and displacement throughout the country.

Drivers of displacement

Indonesia comprises more than 17,000 islands and ranks 36th among the countries most at risk of disaster brought on by natural hazards as a result of its high exposure and high vulnerability. The country is located in the Pacific “ring of fire” and is at constant risk of volcanic eruptions, forest fires, earthquakes, floods, landslides and tsunamis. More recently, it has also faced drought. Data on file with IDMC shows that for the period from 2008 to 2016, sudden-onset disasters, mainly due to earthquakes, floods and volcanic eruptions, displaced about 402,000 people on average each year.

Coupled with poverty, population growth and rapid urbanisation, Indonesia’s high susceptibility to disasters has caused the loss of lives, destruction of property, degradation of the environment and setbacks to the economy, and undermined development work. Indonesia ranked 67th out of 171 countries in terms of fatalities and economic losses suffered because of extreme weather events over the period from 1996 to 2015. All of those factors have contributed to internal displacement crises.

Indonesia’s cities, most notably the largest city and capital Jakarta, exhibit particularly high exposure to natural hazards and the effects of climate change. A coastal city crisscrossed by 13 rivers that often overflow during monsoon season, Jakarta is vulnerable to massive flooding and sea level rise. Rapid urbanisation, the growth of informal settlements and changes in land use have led to major infrastructure problems, pollution and clogging of waterways. More recent floods have partly resulted from the inability of the city’s drainage system to cope with overflowing rivers.

Land deforestation due to logging and clearing for palm oil plantations has also exacerbated the impact of natural hazards. Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil, and indigenous and other people have been displaced to make way for these plantations in provinces including Papua, North Sumatra, Central Sulawesi, West and Central Kalimantan, and Jambi. People have also been forcibly evicted from urban areas for infrastructure development and other projects. The country has no single map of land use claims, land rights are generally expensive to register, and women’s rights to marital property are generally not registered.

Between 2004 and 2013, the World Bank financed 21 projects with confirmed or potential displacement in Indonesia, and an estimated 11,400 people were displaced. The three projects that displaced the most people were a hydroelectric power project (8,213 people), a road infrastructure project (1,590 people) and a gas market development project (941 people). Other cases of displacement caused by development include the 1985 Kendung Ombo reservoir in central Java, which displaced 24,000 people.

Following President Suharto’s resignation in 1998, fiscal and political power was transferred to the district level, enabling local elites to take power and funds for their own benefit. Armed conflict and widespread inter-communal violence ensued, displacing three million people between 1998 and 2004. Structural inequalities, uneven development, a decade of Islamisation, marginalisation of minorities and increased competition for resources were at the heart of much of the conflict and violence in Central Sulawesi, Maluku, and Central and West Kalimantan. Separatist movements fuelled violence in Aceh, Papua and Timor.

Even though clashes have diminished significantly since the end of the Suharto dictatorship, with the Aceh peace accord signed in 2005 and the Central Sulawesi and Maluku accord signed in 2001, religious intolerance remains a catalyst for inter-communal violence. An estimated 10,000 people were sporadically displaced by inter-communal violence in Maluku, West Nusa Tenggara, East Kalimantan and Lampung between 2012 and 2015, and in 2016 another 7,000 members of the Gafatar religious community were violently evicted on Kalimantan island, though displacement because of attacks on religious minorities began in 2006 or even earlier. If left unaddressed, religious divides create the risk of destabilising other communities.

Papua and West Papua are the only regions with an ongoing conflict, which is between the Free Papua Movement and the Indonesian security forces. Despite considerable natural resources, particularly forest and minerals, those two provinces have the lowest human development indicators in the country. Significant demographic changes due to government transmigration programmes and voluntary migration, and the establishment of the Grasberg gold and copper mine, the largest gold mine in the world, have led to large-scale land dispossession, increased competition for resources, environmental degradation from mine waste, and limited access to livelihoods.

Patterns of displacement

Information on the patterns of movement, current locations and recurrence of displacement of IDPs in Indonesia is scarce. People displaced by disasters either live in temporary shelters or with relatives. Ninety per cent of the 24,000 people displaced by the Kendung Ombo reservoir in central Java were supposed to be moved to outer islands, but only 25 per cent actually moved because of delays in developing the sites.

Even though the majority of people displaced by conflict between 1998 and 2004 have returned home, the remainder live in protracted displacement due to unresolved ethnic and religious tensions and land disputes. Most of them live in West Timor in the province of East Nusa Tenggara and in Maluku. Others live in North Sulawesi, North Sumatra, East Java and West Nusa Tenggara. Around half of the remaining IDPs from Aceh have stayed there, while the others are elsewhere in Indonesia.

Of the estimated 104,000 people who chose to integrate locally in West Timor after fleeing from what was then East Timor in 1999, 22,000 are still living in camps in and around the city of Kupang and in the Belu regency near the border to Timor L’Este. In Maluku, 5,400 people displaced in the early 2000s were still living with host families and in temporary settlements in four sub-districts as of May 2015. In Papua, conflict displacement is mostly in remote rural areas.

Members of the Ahmadiyya community in West Java have remained in displacement since their houses were destroyed in 2006. Repeated displacement has also been reported, such as the estimated 20,000 people displaced by military operations in the Paniai region in 2011. After security forces carried out sweeping raids targeting Free Papua Movement guerrillas, many IDPs sought shelter in the forest or jungle, in part because of the absence of transport infrastructure.

Priority needs and vulnerabilities

In Sidoarjo, East Java, some 5,000 people displaced by a mudflow which started in 2006 are still waiting to receive compensation to acquire land. Five years after their displacement, people forced to flee after the 2009 Sumatra earthquake still faced delays in obtaining permits for land, ongoing exposure to hazards, delays in reconstruction and a lack of livelihood opportunities. Those displaced by the Mount Sinabung volcano eruption were also confronted with reconstruction delays and a lack of political will to relocate them.

IDPs in Papua and West Papua struggle with physical security, freedom of movement, access to food, water, shelter, livelihood opportunities and healthcare. Shiite IDPs find it harder to access healthcare and educational facilities because of delays and costly administrative procedures in obtaining identity cards. Papuans generally face severe limitations on the freedom of expression and harsh repression of political dissent.

IDPs living in camps in West Timor, Kupang and Belu lack access to adequate housing, clean water and sanitation facilities. In Sidoarjo, East Java, IDPs are unable to return to their land without permission and police escorts. The lack of tenure and access to agricultural land is a major barrier to IDPs’ access to employment and livelihood security.

Selected references

Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance, Indonesia: Disaster Management Reference Handbook 2015

Government of Indonesia, Law on the Acquisition of Land for Development in the Public Interest, No. 2, 2012

Mongabay, Inside Indonesia’s highest-profile land conflict, 7 December 2015

IDMC Law and Policies database