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Report highlights Bougainville Peace Agreement funding constraints

Funding for the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) has been a concern among other important issues that needed to be addressed, the Parliamentary Bipartisan Committee on Bougainville Referendum report stated.

Committee chairman William Powi said this in his first detailed status report to Parliament last week.

He stressed the importance of funding from Waigani to successfully implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

Powi said there must be additional funds (beyond the grants to which the Bougainville Government was otherwise entitled) to ensure that Bougainville was “referendum ready” and be able to comply with the requirements of “good governance” and weapons disposal in time for the referendum before the middle of June, 2020.

He said that almost every head of the referendum hinged on the availability to sufficient funding in order to achieve positive outcomes.

He said there are two points to consider in regard to funding and that is the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement which is time-bound with a referendum that must be held within a five-year timeframe (2015-2020) and that would mean additional cost if reconciliations were to take place between far-flung communities.

He said that in Wakunai, the committee was told that the people are taking initiatives in their own localities to reconcile and successes have been witnessed, and he recommended that such should be encouraged to become the preferred model of reconciliation.

Powi said other important issues included the need to progress rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-combatants into communities.

He said while some individuals could easily slot back into normal lives, others struggle to settle in and restore their normal lives due to the trauma and ordeals that they had experienced.

It was revealed that there was little funding for the exercise despite that both were clearly outlined in the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

Powi said apart front ex-combatants, there was yet another group that needed to be embraced and properly settled into the communities and they are the so-called lost generation. “These are people within the age range of 16 years to 30 years, who were born and grew up between 1986 and around 2000, in which many of them grew up with limited or no formal education,” he added.

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