Keerom, 4/12 (Jubi/IRIN) – Indigenous people in Papua, Indonesia’s easternmost province, struggle for employment because most jobs in the gold-rich region go to migrants despite government efforts to tackle growing income inequality. Service industry jobs in the provincial capital, Jayapura, are taken mostly by non-indigenous Papuans, who make up half the province’s 2.8 million people.
“I have to work myself half dead to have enough money for food,” said Roni Sareo, 29, a native Papuan from Keerom district, about 60km north of Jayapura. “I wish there were other jobs.” He graduated from secondary school 12 years ago, but at most can only earn US$75 per month from odd construction jobs, less than half of the $166 monthly minimum wage in the province.
Disadvantaged from the start
The reasons vary for why the unemployment rate of the indigenous half of the population is many times higher than among non-indigenous people, say analysts.
In a May 2013 report by the national statistics bureau, only 17 percent of Papua’s labour force reported receiving income from full-time work, another 45 percent were self-employed or working part-time, and 38 percent were in unpaid household help.