BARNABAS ORERE PONDROS
THE United States is mindful of the fact that its World War II ordnance strewn around Bougainville may end up “in the wrong hands” and destabalise the ongoing peace process on the island.
It was also concerned that the war material may be trafficked to other parts of Papua New Guinea for criminal use.
Acting US Ambassador Paul Berg revealed this in an interview with The National on Wednesday.
“We will do our very best to advance the peace in Bougainville and this is one way we can help out,” Mr Berg said.
“We also know that material from World War II are being trafficked and may end up in the wrong hands,” he said.
As such, it was committed to working with the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the PNG Government to clear them out.
Mr Berg confirmed that US state department contractors would make a survey to decide on the best method of clearing out the ordnance.
The contractors, known as the Quick Reaction Force, arrived in Torokina district on Tuesday.
They would assess the potential impact of the unexploded ordnance in the area, which was the scene of a protracted land battle between Allied and Japanese forces during WWII, Mr Berg said.
The eight-member technical team, made up of US civilians, hired by the US state department would be in Bougainville, as long as it takes, to map out the ordnance sites, and draft a clearance strategy.
“The concern also is that abandoned and unexploded munitions have had a significant lingering effect, limiting area residents’ abilities to pursue even basic life-sustaining operations such as subsistence farming,” he said.
Mr Berg said such undertakings were done “only on the request of relevant governments”.
For this case, the ABG and PNG governments made a request to “assist in clearing up the ordnance”.
The initial US team, conducted a survey in June.