Hopes for peace amongst tribal fighting in Hela

“In a blink of an eye we lost loved ones, our schools, the aid post, and many properties which took us time, resources, and money to acquire. Our children are not going to school. We are stuck in our own village and cannot travel out because of fear of being attacked. My business is also gone”, says Bruce Hiruma, a leader from the remote Yatemali village located in North Koroba, Hela Province. His tribesmen describe him as a “born leader” because of his kind, hardworking and humanitarian spirit.

He spends his days working towards peace.

Hiruma was a regional councilor for some time before quitting and venturing into a small business. He has a brave and chatty character and an easy-going personality. He is known to step in to help others when needs arise, not only during peace negotiation processes but also when his community needs him, supporting school fee assistance, or help for assistance for social and family commitments as weddings, among others.

Hiruma is well respected and listened to every time he stands and talks to his tribe. He was the one who stood tall during the peak of fighting and negotiated peace between his clan and the enemy clan last year. But recently, despite sleeplessly going around talking to both parties to persuade them to discuss possible options to solve the problem rather than fight, nobody listened to him. He was overruled.

“I couldn’t do anything but to run away when the enemy attacked us. My two trucks were completely damaged and the business activities in which I invested a lot of resources, time, and effort to build up were destroyed. I couldn’t drive out because the only access road was blocked off by the enemy tribe,” he tells, with so much serenity that it’s easy to forget that fighting continues around his community.

“Nothing can be done to bring back what was lost during the fight. The only way forward would be to start all over again, but that can only be done if there are available resources”.

Source : Icrc