GROUP DISPLACED BY WEST SEPIK TSUNAMI FACE LAND PROBLEMS

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VANIMO, Papua New Guinea (December 30, 1998 - Post-Courier)---About 22 families from Warapu, one of the villages affected by the tsunami in West Sepik Province, are pleading to the government to provide land for them to settle on.

The leader of the group, James Tanimbre, said the group has chosen Vanimo for various reasons.

Mr. Tanimbre explained that continued earth tremors and water and land disputes with neighboring Ramoi villagers were among the reasons why they had left their new site of Warapu to settle in Vanimo.

He said the people counted about 14 earth tremors, and the last one was so bad it made people run for their canoes, thinking another tsunami would hit.

Mr. Tanimbre said water flowing underground meant that they could not build toilets and houses.

When they dug holes into the earth they found water. Mr. Tanimbre said trying to build toilets had caused a health hazard.

He explained that in-fighting among villagers over land was also a major problem.

Mr. Tanimbre said the people at Ramoi have claimed that land on which they had settled was theirs.

He said two of their youths were assaulted when they went to Ramoi to visit relatives, all because of land disputes.

Mr. Tanimbre said Ramoi landowners want the government to compensate them before he and other people from Warapu can settle.

He has written two letters to disaster and provincial authorities outlining the group's problems. Nothing has been done, however.

Mr. Tanimbre said other families were also thinking of doing the same and moving to Vanimo.

Brother James Coucher in Vanimo said, on behalf of the people, that the families who moved into Vanimo were now moving to Wendeco settlement, where conditions were worse.

Brother James said there was a shortage of food and he was the only one who tried to provide them food.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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