UN urges Papua New Guinea to address heightened tribal violence News
Central Intelligence Agency, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
UN urges Papua New Guinea to address heightened tribal violence

The UN called for measures to address the tribal violence in Papua New Guinea on Tuesday, urging the country to adequately address the heightened violence between tribes in its Highland region.

The organization called on the nation’s government to engage with local leaders to establish peace and promote human rights. UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Jeremy Laurence stated, “[t]he Government must take immediate measures to address the root causes of the violence, and work toward tribal recognition. The Highland communities, particularly women and girls, must be protected.”

The UN’s statement came two days after a clash erupted between rival tribes in the Enga province, where dozens of people were killed. In Enga, a gold-rich province, disputes over land have become increasingly deadly due to a significant rise in the availability of firearms. The UN urged Papua New Guinea to “ensure the surrender of all arms, particularly mass-produced firearms,” to address the escalation in violence.

In response to the massacre, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape said his government would provide arrest powers to its military. He further urged the tribes to deal with their disputes in nonviolent ways, stating “[t]here is no prize to be engaged in tribal fights.”

The internal conflicts of the island nation have become closely watched in recent years as global powers like the US and China have become increasingly interested in building ties with Papua New Guinea. The US and its ally Australia began escalating attempts to develop relations with the country in response to China’s growing influence in the South Pacific. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese offered his country’s assistance on Monday, stating his government is “providing considerable support, particularly for training police officers and for security in Papua New Guinea.” The two nations signed a security pact in December in which Australia agreed to help increase Papua New Guinea’s police force from 6,000 to 26,000. Papua New Guinea is also the largest recipient of Australia’s foreign aid.