BOUGAINVILLE SECESSIONISTS CONCERNED ABOUT AID FLOW

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CANBERRA, Australia (July 15, 1998 - PACNEWS)---Bougainville secessionists say they are not getting a fair share of the foreign aid being provided for the rehabilitation of their war torn island. They claim the governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia are trying to isolate the Bougainville Interim Government (BIG), both in terms of economic assistance and reconstruction planning.

They say BIG village areas are being starved of necessary aid that other areas are receiving, and claim that no Australian or PNG aid is going to humanitarian projects organized by the Interim Government.

The claims are made in a statement released today by the Sydney-based Bougainville Freedom Movement, which is closely allied to the secessionist movement and especially to BIG and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army.

The statement says there is widespread frustration all over Bougainville for funds and projects promised but not met. "This glaring policy of isolation is creating increased tensions and threatens the goodwill of those who spent the past decade fighting for economic justice on Bougainville."

The secessionists are critical of the Australian government's aid agency, AusAID which it says has paid huge fees to consultants who have gone to Bougainville but produced little in the way of results.

Tuesday, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer met PNG's Minister for Bougainville Affairs, Sam Akoitai, and later announced Australia would provide $AUS 1.2 million ($US 749,000) for a project in the Tinputz and Wakunai districts covering the distribution of urgently needed clothing, the installation of water supply and sanitation works, and training programs.

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