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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National/PINA, Dec. 23) - Widespread abuse of home-brew, or Jungle Juice, in Bougainville is threatening a weapons disposal program, the Bougainville Women's Forum on Weapons Disposal said.

At a meeting in Arawa, it noted that alcohol abuse lay at the heart of many of the social ills that are currently plaguing Bougainville.

It suggested that any society in transition was vulnerable to anti-social behavior and Bougainville is particularly so.

It said males under the influence of alcohol damaged the property of aid agencies, stole their vehicles and placed the safety of innocent people in towns and villages in danger.

"With a number of weapons still uncollected, this habit of drunken behavior is worrying," the Bougainville Women's Forum on Weapons Disposal said.

The weapons disposal program is a key component of the peace agreement ending the decade-long secessionist war on the Papua New Guinea island.

Said a statement released by the Women's Forum on Weapons Disposal after their meeting: 

"Bougainvillean political and ex-combatant leaders are focused at the moment on setting in motion the mechanisms agreed upon for transforming the society from one ravaged by war to one founded on peace and stability.

"Only through discipline and hard work of the Bougainville people can economic and social development flourish.

"It is tragic that at such a time as this, the energy and vitality of Bougainvillean males, of all ages and levels of society are being physically sapped and the stability of families affected through the very harmful effects of alcohol abuse."

The Women's Forum on Weapons Disposal said it strongly condemns the production, sale and consumption of Jungle Juice.

It declared that those who taught the techniques of making of home-brew cannot escape responsibility for the harmful effects of their actions.

December 24, 2002

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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