22 Aug 2002

Tribal clash in PNG's Western Highlands prevents churches from delivering aid

11:19 am on 22 August 2002

Heavily armed men from warring tribes are stopping church workers from delivering aid to over 2-hundred starving and homeless people in Papua New Guinea's Western Highlands Province.

Marven Peter from the Nebilyer District Office says the homeless, from the Pelgas-Kombe tribe, are also suffering from malaria and typhoid.

He says this follows a blockade by tribesmen from the rival Lganeka tribe, which is stopping the delivery of food and medical supplies.

Some of the Lganeka clan destroyed the homes and crops of the Pelgas people after John Yama, a Pelgas tribesman, was elected to head the areas local authority two weeks ago.

Mr Peter says police are unable to maintain law and order and that the provincial government must step in and do something.

And Mr Peter says church workers often find themselves chased out of the area by armed members of both tribes who he says are determined to fight.

"The catholic church and seventh day adventist church, they are trying to help this community but when the missionaries come in, these people they try to reject them. How often these people try to help them but they never because of this problem., when they wanna fight, they mean business. They don't want outsiders come in and stop them from their trouble."

Marven Peter in PNG's Western Highlands Province