Warring clans end 5-year clash

Two warring clans from Onamuga, in Eastern Highlands Province, have come together after a five-year tribal fight that claimed 11 lives, displaced families and cut people off from basic health services.

Local churches, together with district and provincial government officials, helped to broker the peace agreement, ending the violent rift that started as a family feud.

The clans participated in a reconciliation ceremony and signed a peace agreement, vowing to put the hostilities behind them.

District Law and Justice coordinator Rex Umpari said when the clans came forward and placed their signatures on the document, they were answerable to the law should they breach the agreement.

“By signing this document you are putting all your differences aside and looking forward to living in peace with one another,” he said.

“On the other hand, should you end up fighting again, the police will intervene and hold you against the penalties you have stated and written in this document.”

The Salvation Army, which runs a health service in Onamuga, serving more than 5000 people, was central to the reconciliation process.

The fight prevented community members from accessing its health services, and forced its Community Health Worker students to be evacuated to Kainantu.

The Salvation Army worked with other churches, including the Lutherans and the Adventists, to help bring about the peace, supported by the Australia-PNG Church Partnership Program (CPP) funded by the Australian Government.

The clans killed and cooked pigs, feasting together to seal their reconciliation. They broke sugarcane to show there were no more grudges, and prayed together to thank God for the new peace.

The CPP supported a two-week law and justice training program in the Onamuga area prior to the signing of the agreement.

The training was followed by a two-day counselling workshop for the warring clans, provided by the Salvation Army and the Lutherans.

(One of the warring clans being led by the Adventists Marching Women to the stage.)

Press release