Prolonged PNG Tribal Warfare Has Displaced Thousands Of People

Community leader: call to government to intervene, special security or a State of Emergency needed

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 28, 2016) – A prolonged tribal warfare has displaced thousands of people in the populous Hulia local level government (LLG) of Komo Margarima district in Hela province.

A community leader John Talu fronted up at the Post Courier’s Highlands Regional Bureau in Mt Hagen today to express his concern at the lack of urgency and attention by the powers that be to stop the fight.

Mr Taku said the four month old conflict between the Hatawi and Tom Tanga clans of Hulia LLG has so far claimed eight lives while two men are permanently injured.

He said the fight has also seen thousands of kina worth of houses, businesses and properties destroyed and razed to ashes.

Mr Talu said what is more unbearable is the sight of scores of innocent, armless and panic-stricken mothers and children seeking refuge and fleeing for their lives to neighboring villages with whatever few belongings for fear of being attacked by the enemies.

Mr Talu said the fight has affected the people in the six council wards of Tigibi village plus the surrounding Lomia-Homokoni, Hulai-Akalai, Tiza-Nawe and Alua-Kambe wards in the vicinity.

He said as families seek refuge and abandon their homes and gardens for many years, hunger is imminent with one child reportedly starved to death last week and was buried unceremoniously.

Mr Talu said the fight is also taking its toll on the bulk of innocent Hela travelling public as warriors after being in the battle fields, cross the Ambua mountain range to Tari Gap where they set up road blocks and rob innocent passengers along the Mendi into Tari section of the Highlands Highway.

Mr Talu said PMV buses and passengers are now becoming innocent targets of these armed hold-ups perpetrated by these tribal warriors who are starving and prey on the travelling public to look for food after wasting their times in the battle fields.

Mr Talu said the Tigibi primary school health center, Halabi district office and other government and civil services in the area have also shut down.

He said Hela police only routinely patrol the road but the police are outnumbered and out gunned and cannot do much as these warriors` are using high-powered weapons in the fight.

He said what is needed now is a special security call-out or a State of Emergency (SoE) to be declared in Hela as due to the ‘political and administrative leadership vacuum’ in Hela, widespread lawlessness and tribal warfares has gripped the resource rich-province.

He warned that if the powers that be continue to ignore the plight of the people, there is a possibility of disruption of services into traffic flow into the US$20 billion PNG LNG project sites in Komo, Nogoli and Hides gas fields.

PNG Post-Courier
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