Displaced Manam islanders rejected

National, Normal

The National- Monday, January 10, 2011


MANAM islanders displaced by the recent volcanic eruptions over the festive period may find it hard to be resettled.

This is because landowners on Bogia – on the mainland where three care centres for displaced islanders totalling about 14,000 are – do not want any more refugees.

Only about 3,000 people remain back on the volcanic island.

The three care centres – Potsdam, Mangem and Asuramba – are at the site of three former plantations.

Potsdam landowner Raymond Brossueau told The National last Friday that the three plantations had been bought by a former Bogia MP Tim Ward and sold to the state to be converted into care centres for displaced  islanders without the consent of the traditional landowners.

Former politician and Madang businessman Sir Peter Barter confirmed the plight of the islanders and added that it was a “national disgrace” which would be heard by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, in May as the government continued to turn a blind eye to it.

Sir Peter also confirmed the animosity of the mainland people towards the islanders because of their land and suggested that the government, which had failed miserably to consult them first before allowing their land to be used as care centres, compensate them.

Brossueau said there had been major eruptions in 1997, 2004 and over the recent festive period but unlike 1997, when Manam islanders only stayed for a short time, they had settled at Bogia permanently since 2004.

“In terms of the Manam settlement, the governments knows the land belongs to the people and needs to be given back,” Brossueau said.

“The government told us that after five years, they would be resettled elsewhere. Since then, nothing has happened.

There have been massive social problems, including fighting and murders, since 2004 at the three care centres as tensions flared between landowners and Manam islanders.