Pacific churches call for condition-free relief funding

The Pacific Conference of Churches has asked governments and donors not to attach conditions to relief efforts in the region.

The call came as Indonesia’s Co-ordinating Minister for Political Affairs, Law and Security visited Fiji.

Luhut Binsar Padjaitan was reportedly delivering Fiji an assistance package worth up to US$5 million, plus a contingent of engineers, to help the country recover from Cyclone Winston.

But in Jakarta, a senior government official told Indonesian media last week that the ministerial visit was to suppress regional support for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.

As the ULMWP was recently granted observer status at the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Jakarta has increased its diplomatic overtures to the region.

PCC general secretary, Rev. Francois Pihaatae, said Indonesia’s offer to Fiji should be welcomed.

But the reverend noted that Mr Padjaitan’s visit had glaring political overtones.

Rev. Pihaatae noted the minister had been “extremely vocal against groups seeking self-determination in Papua” and had publicly called for West Papuan activists to be removed from the country.

Any bilateral talks between Indonesia and Fiji on the issue of West Papua should not be influenced by assistance to cyclone victims, the reverend said.

“We call on all donors – including NGOs – not to attach conditions to their aid and to refrain from providing assistance along with a discreet message to support a political cause,” he said.

The reverend said that New Zealand and Australia – long seen as opponents of Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama – had rushed to Fiji’s aid following the cyclone, setting no pre-conditions for humanitarian assistance.

Last month, Mr Padjaitain, who is a former military leader, announced Indonesian government intentions to have a number of human rights abuses in West Papua probed.

Sources

News category: Asia Pacific.

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