Press Release

The United Nations in Papua new Guinea calls for an immediate cessation of violence in the Highlands and further calls for humanitarian assistance for affected communities

21 July 2022

Port Moresby, 21 July 2022 – The United Nations unequivocally condemns the recent escalation of violence across the Highlands during the election period and calls for its immediate cessation. The United Nations further calls for the swift investigation of alleged crimes and the prosecution of alleged perpetrators and instigators.

Recent and consistent reporting highlight a deteriorating security situation across the Highlands provinces of Papua New Guinea. Official sources confirm deaths, assaults, rape, and the extensive destruction of property and infrastructure.

“I am deeply concerned over allegations of the brutal killing of dozens of civilians, reports of heinous sexual violence against women, including at least eight girls, and estimates of several thousand people, mostly women and children, displaced,” said Mr. Dirk Wagener, acting UN Resident Coordinator. “This unmitigated violence shows utter disregard for human rights, the rule of law,” he added.

Families in many districts are living in fear due to widespread violence in their communities. This violence has already forced an estimated 3,000 people in parts of Enga alone to flee their homes and has caused damage to schools and medical facilities. Businesses and markets have also temporarily closed. Roads have been deliberately cut off through the digging of trenches and destruction of bridges resulting in disruptions in the delivery of goods and services to these communities, which are now experiencing shortages of food, fuel, medicines, and other critical supplies.

Expressing shock at the escalating violence and the developing humanitarian situation, Mr. Wagener urged all parties to immediately cease all fighting and called on authorities to fully investigate all alleged killings, assaults, and violence with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice.

“I wish to underline that the State of Papua New Guinea has a responsibility to uphold the rule of law and ensure the safety of all persons and property, particularly its most vulnerable members of society. This responsibility extends to facilitating safe, unimpeded, and sustained humanitarian access to those affected by this violence,” said Mr. Wagener.

The United Nations and its partners stand ready to respond to any potential call for assistance requested by the Government.

UN entities involved in this initiative

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
International Organization for Migration
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
United Nations Capital Development Fund
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations Children’s Fund
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
World Health Organization

Goals we are supporting through this initiative