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PNG Warrior Tribes to sign peace treaty

Papua New Guinea warrior tribes prepare to sign historic peace treaty
Thirty-two warrior tribes in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea are set to sign an historic peace treaty thanks to the mediation skills and passion of Australian Joy Balazo and a team of local volunteers.

For generations, these 32 tribes have lived as warriors and enemies; fighting, killing and plundering as a way of life. A simple mistake like stepping on a garden bed could result in tribal warfare.

These PNG tribes were stuck in a vicious cycle of violence, living by the mantra, ‘once an enemy, enemies forever’. As a result, no aid and development or progress has been able to happen in the area, and no foreigners could ever visit.

Joy Balazo, Secretary and founder of Young Ambassadors for Peace (YAP) – a Uniting International Mission Program – has been working tirelessly with the PNG tribes since 2003, establishing cell groups and training individuals to be YAP facilitators.

A miracle happened at Christmas last year. All 32 tribes came together and agreed to a peace process. Since then, 12 of the 32 tribes have resolved their issues and incredible progress is being made.

Parties have begun signing temporary peace agreements, preparing to sign a permanent treaty on 16 September this year – the PNG Day of Independence.

The temporary agreements entail them to put down their weapons and pay compensation for the property that they have destroyed, as well as for the people they have killed.

Ms Balazo said the YAP volunteers believe that the success that they have had in starting the peace process truly showed that God was at work, doing mighty things and helping people with problems.

Local policemen, Jacob Ten was enthusiastic about the developments and thrilled to be a part of this historic reconciliation. “The conflicting parties came together and agreed to put a stop to the fighting,” Jacob said, “they will soon sign the agreement.”

Jacob believes that “together they can become friends, come to a conclusion and live in peace.”

As the only policeman in the area, Jacob feels that every policeman should be a part of YAP. "YAP is transforming the communities here. If you have the chance to do this, all policemen should.”

Jacob received permission to stay with the YAP community after gaining a new and different perspective from being involved in the project.

Vera, a member of the community, describes the amazing breakthroughs which are happening in the mediations. “The Taro warrior men break down into tears. It is a miracle in itself to watch them cry. Every one of them is broken.”

The minister, David, has prayed for this peace for several years. He believes that God is showing his people his work, and he does not forget the support from the Uniting Church in Australia.

YAP coordinator, Moses, feels very happy to watch God do this good thing and is thrilled about his commitment and work in the project. He sees the impact that this is having upon the society and believes that all the mediations will be successful.

This is an important breakthrough for PNG. With the tribes in the Southern Highlands at peace, the area will finally be able to move forward and progress.

Donations in support of the program can be made via the Uniting International Mission website www.uim.uca.org.au  

Photo : Papua New Guinea warrior tribes prepare to sign historic peace treaty