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Papua New Guinea

PNG erupts amid calls for foreign peacekeepers

Thousands of Papua New Guineans are homeless as they flee from violence in Porgera in the Enga province, which has so far claimed the lives of eight people.

The fight is between two tribes who are claiming ownership over the Porgera Mines, which was due to restart operations soon.

According to reports coming out of PNG, businesses and government offices in the area are closed. More than 100 homes have been razed.
People are now fleeing the area as there is fear that violence will escalate and more lives will be lost.

There is a call for the government to take the matter seriously and even suggestions that foreign peacekeepers be engaged.

The two tribes, Nomali and Aiyel are said to have been involved in this tug of war over the mines for some time.

The fight started as the PNG police withdrew from the area to start building up for the upcoming general election.

It seems the police are playing down the violence.

Porgera mines. Picture: Twitter

Assistant Police Commissioner Operation Samson Kua told the National that the fighting in Porgera was an old tribal fight between two clans.

“It’s an ongoing tribal fighting that was recently addressed with the signing of a ceasefire agreement between the two tribes but flared up again at the end of last week,” he said.

“We have deployed mobile squads from Wabag and mobile squads from Mt Hagen to Pogera to assist local police to address the issue.”

It is believed that the PNG Defence Force arrived in Porgera on Monday to provide reinforcement to the local police.

The violence is taking a toll on key government services as well, with Paiam Hospital now open for emergency only.

Medical Superintendent Dr Jerry Hoga said there were two doctors, 30 nurses and three health extension officers on the ground with him and they would be on standby to treat any emergency cases.

There are fears that if security forces do not intervene fast enough, businesses will lose out.

Homes were razed to the ground because of the fighting in Porgera. Picture: Twitter

According to Porgera Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Nickson Pakea, Porgera was on the verge of collapse.

“Tribal fighting between Nomali and Aiyel clans broke out again last week,” he told the National.

He said sporadic fighting has been ongoing the past year, while an employee of Ipili Porgera Investment was recently axed to death by Aiyel clan members when he got off a bus at Paiam road junction near the police station.

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On the same day at Porgera station, an elderly man from Paiela was shot by his son-in-law from Tari over a family dispute earlier in the night.

Mr Pakea revealed that on the fourth day of fighting yesterday, all semi-permanent houses, including the club of the lord mayor were razed.

“The fight is ongoing in the vicinity of police barracks, hospitals and schools and the lives of public servants and the public are at risk.

“Last week, all schools in Porgera were closed as result of the warlord thugs invading Porgera town and Porgera station by Tari and Paielans in a fresh fight over family disputes.

Burnt homes in Porgera, PNG. Picture: Twitter

“The thugs are also trying to break into the PJV (Porgera Joint Venture) sage mill.”

He said there is strong resistance by security personnel, including the MS 9 mobile squad’s policemen from Wabag.

“General election 2022 is around the corner and this ongoing war is a threat to public safety and a fair electoral process.

He called on the “responsible authorities”, including the Enga administration, to “immediately look into the problem seriously until the polls are over and the Porgera Mine reopens.”

“Porgera needs Government intervention now, not tomorrow.”

Earlier in the year, a ceasefire was negotiated and a peace treaty was agreed upon by the two tribes.

However, a week ago, violence erupted in the area once again.

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