Prime Minister Hon. James Marape, MP, has extended an invitation to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to form a partnership with districts facing armed conflict hotspots. The objective is to mitigate armed conflicts and transform the approach to addressing and resolving issues within affected communities.
During a briefing with His Excellency Georgia Georgantas, Head of Mission for the ICRC in Papua New Guinea on Monday, June 20, 2023, Prime Minister Marape extended the invitation. The Prime Minister gained insight into the ICRC’s international mandate, which focuses on assisting individuals impacted by armed conflict.
Mr. Georgantas informed Prime Minister Marape that their specific focus within the country is supporting those affected by tribal conflicts. They have identified conflict hotspots, particularly in the Highlands region. In the event of a conflict, they assess the damages and casualties before providing suitable assistance.
With offices located in Port Moresby, Mt. Hagen, and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, the ICRC operates on multiple fronts. The Mt. Hagen office assists vulnerable individuals affected by tribal conflicts, while the team in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville aids in the recovery of missing persons from the Special Region.
Mr Georgantas also mentioned that the recognition and ratification of the organisation by Parliament are crucial for expanding their work and acquiring additional assistance.
Prime Minister James Marape expressed gratitude for the ICRC’s work in the country and extended an invitation to collaborate with districts and churches. Emphasising the importance of working with churches, he stressed the need to eliminate political interference to ensure effective assistance to those impacted by armed conflict.
The Prime Minister further urged the ICRC to establish offices within his electorate. Given that his Tari-Pori electorate serves as the sole service center in Hela Province, it attracts individuals affected by tribal conflicts from neighboring provinces seeking services such as policing and healthcare.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Marape proposed leveraging the Hope Institute, which supports women and children affected by violence, as a platform for collaboration with churches and the ICRC in Hela.
Addressing the long-lasting trauma experienced by individuals affected by tribal conflicts, the Prime Minister emphasised the necessity of providing support and resources for essential counseling services. These services would focus on surviving armed conflicts and facilitating the reintegration of affected individuals into society.
In addition, Prime Minister Marape offered to send church workers to receive conflict resolution training from the ICRC office in Mt. Hagen. Equipped with this training, these individuals can help resolve disputes amicably and peacefully, avoiding resorting to violence.
Reiterating his previous statements, Prime Minister Marape condemned armed fighting as an ineffective means of addressing grievances. He emphasised, “There is no excuse for violence, and we do not condone it. Our traditions and cultures should not be used as a basis for propagating violence within society. We strive to eradicate violence from our communities.”
Prime Minister Marape concluded the meeting by expressing gratitude to the ICRC for their work in the country. He assured Mr Georgantas that he would personally present their letter to Parliament for ratification during the August 2023 session.