Hela Province is located in the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea. The province, which was created in 2012, is both remote and one of the least developed provinces in PNG.
Over the past decades, violence in Hela has escalated in scale and intensity. This violence has had devastating effects on the people of Hela, including death, physical suffering, trauma, destruction of property, mass displacement and gender-based violence. It is being driven by intergroup conflict, gendered norms around violence, an increase in the proliferation of weapons, political and economic competition, and the limited access to law and justice mechanisms.
Conciliation Resources has been in talks with peacebuilding practitioners and international actors around the need for systematic analysis of violent conflict in Hela. In 2021, we conducted an initial scoping project to understand existing capacities for peace as well as peacebuilding needs within the province. We have since conducted a comparative learning event in partnership with the Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation in Bougainville with key peacebuilders and civil society leaders from Hela to conduct further analysis of key conflict challenges. This has enabled us to begin mapping opportunities to support peacebuilding initiatives.
We are currently working on a Peacebuilding Leadership Pilot Project in Hela Province, to provide peacebuilding skills training and resources that will enable local government and non-government leaders in Hela to analyse conflict issues and design initiatives to address them.
Photo: Customary feast in Hela with leader calling for peace ©iStock.com/FredericFaure