The National – Thursday, December 23, 2010
By RIGGO NANGAN
UP to 300 women and children from the Bulolo care centre supported by a few of their men, staged a peaceful march on Monday to the office of the district administrator armed with a petition seeking answers for the long delay in the much talked-about repatriation exercise for them to return to their home provinces.
Acting district administrator, Tae Gwambalek, who received their petition on behalf of the district administrator, Nimsen Kibisep, who was out of town, told them that he would respond to their petition in due course.
Spokesperson for the care centre women, Francesca Taio, said from Bulolo that the women have decided to make the march themselves because they depended on their men to lead in negotiations with concerned authorities in regard to their repatriation but nothing had eventuated in the last few months. She said women and children taking the initiative might get the attention of the authorities.
“We know that the national government had allocated about K3 million and Morobe government had also made some commitment but what went wrong and we are still here?” Taio asked.
She said the victims were not so much being forced to leave the care centre but volunteered to leave.
“There are mothers here who want to enjoy Christmas with families and friends just like every other women, but we can’t do that in this place,” she said.
Taio described the centre “as more of a refugee camp than a care centre where the victims are just making do with the unpleasant conditions of the centre while authorities and government officers play marbles with their fate”.
District project coordinator for community justice, Cass Anduari, also a victim of the ethnic clash, said: “The money was allocated, ships and road transport were ready to move people, why is it not happening?”
He said a committee headed by chairman of law and justice in Morobe, Benson Suwang, recently travelled to Wewak via Madang to establish negotiations with their counterparts in the East Sepik government for the repatriation exercise but no word has been received yet.
“We know that people are getting allowances, sleeping in hotels, hiring vehicles, etc, all in the name of the proposed repatriation but that was it,” he said, adding that acquittals of these monies should be made available so that everyone should know how the money was spent and if the repatriation would still go ahead