In Hela Province, the long path to recovery from February’s devastating earthquake is being hampered by intermittent outbreaks of intergroup fighting. Restoring peace and stability is important for setting a solid foundation for recovery and reconstruction.
The leadership of two previously warring clans from Hela Province recommitted to renouncing violence at a law and order workshop in the Fugwa Basin area, boosting hopes a peace settlement negotiated in April will hold.
The leaders were among 32 people attending a three-day workshop at Fugwa Primary School that provided information on law and justice agencies, family and sexual violence, juvenile justice, illicit drugs and tribal fighting.
Hela Provincial Law and Justice Manager James Tapale, who led the activity, said the presence of the two previously warring clans was very encouraging.
The two clans surrendered guns and other weapons during law and order awareness sessions conducted by Mr Tapale at Kereneipa Market in April, following an appeal by community leaders for an end to the fighting.
“It’s two months since our public awareness activity and there has not been any further tribal fighting in the Fugwa area,” Mr Tapale said. He stressed the need for continued follow-up to ensure peace is sustained.
For many of the attendees, this was the first time they have been to an awareness raising session on law and order. The workshop involved discussion of the causes and consequences of tribal fighting and violence.
“Some said their life was not safe; they lived with fear, their family was not settled, houses were burnt down, gardens destroyed, trees cut down and to be safe, they ran away and hid in the woods,” Mr Tapale said.
The participants were urged to embrace alternatives to violence in the resolution of disputes, including mediation and reporting incidents to police.
In addition to the workshop, Mr Tapale conducted law and justice awareness raising sessions at three primary, and one secondary school in the Fugwa Basin, and aims to expand his work to other parts of the Province.
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Hela Provincial Law and Justice Manager, James Tapale.