29 Jul 2005

Study says fear of guns has tangible impact in PNG, Bougainville and Solomons

7:57 am on 29 July 2005

A newly published study on villagers in Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, and Solomon Islands, suggests insecurity after armed violence affects livelihoods, income generation and safety.

The findings of the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey were based on interviews, mapping and impact assessments in villages.

In the Mendi district of PNG's Southern Highlands, the researchers found there was a near universal fear that tribal fighting would erupt again because of uneven peace dividends.

In Bougainville, the study found some guns remain despite weapons collection programmes, and this contributes in some cases to persistent insecurity, especially amongst women and young people.

On Malaita in Solomon Islands, community members told the researchers that the widely known presence of guns in other nearby communities created a 'zone of fear'.

The researchers said this fear had practical implications, since women couldn't take advantage of markets in those areas, and access to schools, clinics and shops was also limited.

The report says guns are still a taboo topic and the research was limited by a reluctance, especially from women, to speak about guns.