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Pacific News Minute: Competing clans claim ownership of new island in Papua New Guinea

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A new island has appeared in Papua New Guinea. The development has led to tensions and even outbreaks of violence as competing clans claim ownership of the land.

The island is in the southeastern part of the country. It has gradually formed from three smaller islands over the course of two decades, but has only solidified over the past few years.

The island is only accessible by canoe, and it’s covered by low-growing shrubs and tropical pine.

Local fisherman Simon Seboda tells The Guardian that at first it was made entirely of just crushed coral and sand, but now there’s soil and vegetation.

The island’s emergence has caused fights among two local tribes, including one instance in which a man was stabbed.

Clans have taken the matter to village and district courts to resolve the dispute.

Members of the Yega tribe say their ancestors first settled the mainland opposite the island hundreds of years ago, in a village called Waususu, and eventually moved inland.

But the Garara people, who now live along the coastline, also claim ownership of the island.

The formation of the island has yet to be studied. Locals say that the government has not visited the area to investigate.

But the community believes the island formed as wind and waves repeatedly deposited sediment – possibly pollution from a local palm oil factory.

Derrick Malama is the local anchor of Morning Edition.
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