These are the victims of corruption in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville
We have previously drawn attention to grand levels of corruption within the Autonomous Bougainville Government, which has decimated capacity and public funds. We are saddened to hear a major landslide in the south of Bougainville has taken many lives, following a huge earthquake (it appears no media accounts have yet appeared of the fatalities!). An eyewitness report suggests for seven days families have been digging for loved ones, without any state assistance. Meanwhile millions in Kina is stolen by government Ministers, or awarded to companies owned by business partners and family members. Those digging through mud, struggling to find their loved ones, are the victims of corruption, and the mismanagement it breeds. An eyewitness account paints a sombre portrait.
Source: Cecilia Pepson, Bougainville Women’s Federation
Five days have gone by, and they have not found their loved ones. Day in and day out, they continue to dig through the rubble. They have changed the course of the Porou river three times, getting the fast flowing river to wash away dirt so they can hope to find them.
By day five (5), they can smell the decomposing bodies, but still evasive. They dig around the huge rock that got dislocated from the left side of this canyon like gorge. The rock that their loved ones must be entombed beneath.
They are cold, they are hungry, their hands are sore from digging with them bare (no gloves). Their backs ache, they catch cough because their immunity is down as they dig tirelessly through rain or shine, night or day. They dare not stop, cos they can smell them close by somewhere near. The sooner they find them the better. So they can put them to rest and then and only then, will they rest.
They are a forgotten people. Government services do not trickle down this far. Yesterday there was a feeble attempt from Buin District office to assist… 6 bags of 20kg rice. Sadly, this is just a drop in the bucket.
It will help if someone from the “natural disaster office” in Buka can make a site visit and see for themselves that the searchers need to eat as they work around the clock. Everyone from surrounding villages are running out of resources, because they are all relatives and are ALL in mourning and further, live in the same treacherous landscape. These are people who live such hard lives, while their elected leaders forget them for 5 years after getting elected into office.
These people do not have access to water in their homes. Their children went to have their daily wash and to fetch water for consumption in their homes. This is how life is lived in this part of the world. Children going to wash together, 2 kilometers down in the gorge, adds fun to the hard task of children helping parents carry home much needed basic water. Unfortunately on this particular Sunday, disaster struck.
Bougainville Women’s Federation issues a response:
‘The Disaster office in Buka has been handicap for so long, and I call on the ABG and our National Parliamentarians to prioritise emergencies like what we have now in Leonoke as we will continue to go through experiencing a lot more disasters in Bougainville’.