UN condemns Kainantu clash

The United Nations has strongly condemned recent fighting near Kainantu Town, Eastern Highlands Province, which has cost nineteen lives.

“We encourage all parties to renew their interest in building a sustainable peace,” said UN Resident Coordinator Gianluca Rampolla. “Both parties have suffered such great loss of life. Further violence will only cause more loss.” 

It is understood the recent fighting between the Tapo and Agarabi tribes began following a disagreement over land rights related to a small alluvial mine. Prior to an agreed exchange of compensation in 13 March, a fight erupted which led to 6 members of the Agarabi tribe being killed and homes of Agarabi tribe members being destroyed.

A peace agreement was to be signed on 8 April, but an unrelated dispute between women from the two parties ahead of this signing prompted renewed fighting between the tribes.

A total of nine members of the Tapo tribe and ten members of the Agarabi tribe have been killed so far, with many more injured.

Over 1,000 persons are estimated to have been displaced by the violence. Homes and food gardens have been destroyed. It has been reported Kainantu District Hospital is currently closed.

“These crimes do not only affect those who choose to participate, they affect the whole community,” said Rampolla. “The United Nations is committed to supporting the provincial authorities in providing for the essential needs of those affected and we encourage authorities to hold the individuals responsible for this violence to account.”

Efforts to assess the immediate needs of displaced persons is made difficult as the situation remains tense. Kainantu District Administration is working with police to maintain peace though there are concerns the fighting will resume.

(Picture by BTT Newscast)

Press Release