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13 Jul 2024 18:54
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  •   Home > News > Politics

    Australia to provide $2 million in extra funding to assist with PNG's landslide recovery

    The Australian Government has announced it will provide $2 million in extra funding to assist Papua New Guinea's recovery response to last month's devastating landslide in Enga Province.

    The Australian Government has announced it will provide $2 million in extra funding to assist Papua New Guinea's recovery response to last month's devastating landslide in Enga Province.

    The additional support will help restore essential services in the province — including local infrastructure, healthcare and education — after PNG's request for help to restore connectivity of the Highlands Highway, which was impacted by the disaster.

    Australia will also provide 1,170 learning packs for children to assist with their education.

    "It's always Australia that's the first country to come to our aid, we do not take your friendship for granted," PNG Defence Minister Dr Billy Joseph said.

    "You have come to see our people mourning, more than 160 are buried [and] many have been moved from tribal lands.

    "Ten thousand people have been affected. We are happy but we are sad. But thanks for all you have done for us."

    An Australian delegation of ministers — including Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong and Minster for International Development Pat Conroy — are in PNG along with other officials to attend the 30th Ministerial Forum.

    Yesterday, the group announced a package of initiatives aimed at strengthening PNG's internal security and law and justice priorities under a major bilateral security agreement struck last year.

    Australian and PNG ministers agreed to assist with a weapons management program and provide support for the country's legal system to help it investigate and prosecute financial crime and assist with making its correctional facilities safer and more secure.

    But Mr Marles acknowledged the event was being held in the shadow of a natural disaster.

    Today, he visited the tent city where thousands of displaced people have been living since the landslide.

    "Australia's hearts break for the people of Mulitaka," he said.

    Many buildings were buried under rock and debris, leaving countless locals homeless and uncertain over where they will live.

    “I look around here and I see sadness and I am so sorry for your loss but I also see hope and we will be with you to make that hope real," Senator Wong said.

    In the aftermath of the tragedy, the Australian government initially sent $2.5 million in humanitarian assistance for emergency supplies as well as technical experts to investigate the site and provide advice on the risk of further landslides.

    Situation on the ground in PNG remains complex

    PNG's Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso thanked Australia and other partners for their support following the disaster.

    The remoteness of the Mulitaka district, ongoing tribal conflicts and tensions over the way aid is administered have complicated relief efforts In the wake of the landslide.

    Last week supplies were halted after a dispute resulted in landowners cutting a fuel line installed to supply fuel to the nearby town of Porgera, which has been cut off due to the landslide.

    CARE International PNG director Justine McMahon said the dispute had been resolved and aid deliveries had resumed, but the situation remained complex.

    "There are a number of tensions on the ground," she said.

    "In situations like this … particularly in rural communities where people don't have a lot in normal times. And so when they see large amounts of relief supplies coming in, it is to be expected that there's increased tension."

    Ms McMahon said she expected aid deliveries would be needed for the next six months, but relocating people to new homes may take much longer.

    "People are incredibly traumatised. They've lost everything, all of their goods, all of their belongings," she said.

    "They've also lost their identity for many people. So this will be a long process."

    © 2024 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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