17 Dec 2003

Thousands homeless as Madang Government evicts settlers by burning down houses

4:42 pm on 17 December 2003

In Papua New Guinea, a spokesman for settlers in Madang says more than ten thousand people have been left homeless by the provincial government's operation to evict illegal settlers by burning down houses.

Paul Ropra has slammed the provincial government as 'terrorists' given that both illegal and legal settlers were targeted.

The National reports that over 200 houses were burned down by police as part of an eviction exercise.

Paul Ropra says people are shocked and angry at the local government.

"This is what I would call a terrorist type of operation. I mean it is not the type of operation you would expect from the provincial government and the pollice in trying to get people out of government land. There are ways and there are avenues to get people out of land that they are squatting on."

Mr Ropra says he fears that settlers may take the law into their own hands.

He says he has hired a lawyer in Port Moresby to take the provincial government to court over the operation.

The Madang Police Commissioner and the Provincial Governor were unavailable for comment.