GUNS CALLED GROWING PROBLEM ON BOUGAINVILLE

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, May 7) - The Leitana Women’s
Agency on Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville island say the weapons disposal
program has failed to target a large number of firearms still in circulation.

The Agency’s Director, Helen Hakena, says the program’s
focus has been on a small percentage of the guns on the island.

PNG’s Minister of Intergovernment Affairs said that 92 percent
of 1,800 weapons registered with the UN Observer Mission on Bougainville and
Peace Monitoring group have been collected.

But Hakena says there has been a rise in firearms trafficking
from mainland PNG and Solomon Islands and that some of the weapons previously
stolen from UN storage containers are still missing.

Hakena says a growing number of young people own firearms

"The young men who are not involved in the fighting, they
are the ones who still hold on to the weapons. They are the rascals who threaten
people in order to get goods and services, because of the freedom of movement
now, of young men, within Bouganville and outside of Bouganville to the other
provinces of PNG, and to the nearby Solomon Islands. Guns are moving across
these borders, the number of weapons still in circulation is not known."

May 8, 2003

Radio New Zealand International: http://www.rnzi.com/ 

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