June 19, 2018

United Nations evacuate staff from PNG Highlands Province

THE United Nations providing assistance to earthquake victims in the Southern Highlands in Papua New Guinea  has relocated its personnel to a neighbouring province due to ongoing civil unrest.

As a precautionary measure, 18 UN staff and consultants were relocated from Mendi on Thursday, June 14, to Mt Hagen where a temporary operational base has been established says UN resident coordinator Gianluca Rampolla.

“Considering the volatile security situation in Mendi, the UN has relocated its staff from Mendi to Mt. Hagen. However, we continue with our humanitarian assistance in Southern Highlands Province as well as Hela,” Mr Rampolla said.

UNICEF fully intends to fulfil its humanitarian commitments to the children of Hela and Southern Highlands.

“We shall return as soon as the situation stabilises.”

Meanwhile their implementing partners such as the Catholic Church continue to work in non-conflict affected areas of both provinces.

“When their headlights faded into the uncertain night still smelling of smoke, I looked around and all that I could see were our missionaries: priests, sisters and brothers standing strong among our much-abused people,” said Mendi Diocese Bishop Donald Lippert.

Bishop Lippert said that UN had done a lot of good in both Southern Highlands and Hela provinces.

“They are compelled to obey their security protocols. We are already in contact with them to arrange for their return, they have not abandoned us forever.”

As of end May 2018, the UN had reached more than 21,990 people with food assistance, 27,000 people with clean water and 2930 people with shelter and non-food items. Air operations led by WFP have enabled United Nations agencies to reach remote communities with critical humanitarian assistance despite the logistics and security challenges involved in road transport.

It said that 2600 children benefited from the safe temporary learning spaces, 8362 children were immunized for measles/rubella and 5800 children were screened for severe acute malnutrition, and 600 women were provided dignity kits. Post Courier/ONE PNG

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