The gardens of people from the villages of Point Cross, Londar and Baemartelie have been destroyed following a clash between two factions over land in South Pentecost.

A community source of Point Cross who wished to remain anonymous said that after the fight took place on February 28 and March 1, men from the village of Bunlap  destroyed their gardens on Thursday March 2, just a day after.

"Our people were told by the chief to stay calm and but since they were too frightened, the villagers had fled to villages of Pangi, Hot water, Lonorore, Baravet, Wanur and as far as North Ambrym," he said.

"The gardens that were destroyed was both domestic and commercial gardens- and these are plots of kava, sandalwood and other forestry that was planted, it has all been wiped out, we are left with nothing."

The source said that these people were making income from their kava gardens where they supply four tonnes of kava every week to markets on Santo and Port Vila and the damage done to the commercial crops was beyond repair.

"The police was sent down and have been able to calm the situation which has resulted in a peace ceremony between the factions that were involved in the dispute- but what the offenders didn't mention to the police after admitting to the killing was the destruction of the gardens of the three villages," he said.

"It was after the ceremony that the chief of Point Cross asked the villages to return when they notice that all the gardens were destroyed and there will be insufficient food supply if everyone were to return to their homes, they will go hungry.

"Currently there is one woman and seven other men living in the village of Point Cross as ordered by the Chief and are feeding on left over wild yam and few other crops that have not been under the knives of the offenders but will not last long."

The source said that due to the unfortunate situation, schools have been closed down and health service provided at the Point Cross was shut down and sick patients and pregnant mothers from villages nearby are affected as it is the immediate health care they can have access to.

"The community feeds the school and its students are looked after by each household but that's no longer the story, students have been sent back to their homes, the school is closed down because of not enough food supply and as for the clinic, it has to be shut down as everyone has left the village," he said.

"Not only that, school fee has become a big concern now for the parents who have their children attending high schools around the country since they rely on kava and sandalwood to pay for school fees- the economy of the village was damaged."

The source said that since Point Cross will be a polling station in the upcoming provincial election on March 23, it will be affected as the people are displaced.

"This is a concern because all the people are scattered and will not be able to exercise their rights to vote when election day arrives," he said.

"We have written a letter to the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) for relief and they are now waiting on results from the provincial assessment team on South Pentecost which has taken up to almost two weeks after the fight took place."

The community source concluded that destruction of their gardens is the second major disaster in their area after the 1999 tidal wave that wiped out a whole village.

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