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Human rights trauma and the mental health of West Papuan refugees resettled in Australia

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Concerns have been raised about human rights violations occurring over an extended period of time in West Papua, although the flow of information is limited because of restrictions in access to the province.15 The territory occupies the western half of the New Guinea landmass and was a Dutch colony until 1966, when it was annexed by Indonesia after a referendum that was widely regarded as invalid.2 Since then, there has been an ongoing resistance war aimed at achieving independence for West Papua, with reports of human rights violations including murder, torture and other forms of abuse. In addition, the indigenous population live in conditions of socioeconomic underdevelopment in spite of the wealth generated by the exploitation of natural resources.14

The ongoing conflict has resulted in a number of refugees seeking asylum in neighbouring Papua New Guinea and Australia. Refugees have been targeted directly by the Indonesian military for having an association with the independence movement.2,