Help on way for grieving relatives in Bougainville

National, Normal

The National, Thursday February 13th, 2014

 AN international humanitarian group hosted a one-day workshop in Arawa last week to raise awareness on problems faced by families whose members went missing during the Bougainville crisis.

The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Papua New Guinea Red Cross facilitated the workshop. 

About 20 community leaders and representatives of non-government organisations, religious organisations, women’s groups and the Panguna peace building strategy committee attended.

They discussed ways to support the families affected and how to deal with the fate of the missing people. 

Paramount chief of PokPok Island, in Kieta, Peter Garawai said: “If no action on the missing is taken, it will hinder the peace process in Bougainville.” 

The workshop was told that under international humanitarian law, families had the right to be told of the fate of missing relatives. International conventions place an obligation on governments, military authorities and armed groups to provide answers on people reported missing in conflicts.

ICRC head in Arawa, Brendan St John said the organisation had been working with the Bougainville and PNG governments since 2012 to have the issue of the missing people included in the efforts to promote peace and reconciliation.

“The families have a right to know what happened, and to have the remains of their loved ones returned to them,” St John said.

“We have witnessed first-hand how addressing this complex issue can help communities cope with their loss, strengthening the peace and reconciliation processes.” 

He said the ICRC was there to provide advice and assistance and it was up to the authorities and the people to resolve the issue.

Bougainvilleans will vote to decide whether they want to remain a part of PNG.