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Helping Cyclone Victims in Papua New Guinea

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IOM has just completed a distribution of relief aid to some 600 hundred people in Papua New Guinea’s remote Northern Province, who were hit by a cyclone last month.

The interval between the storm passing, and the arrival of the USAID/OFDA-funded relief, illustrates the difficulty of accessing parts of this mainly rural nation, as well as the necessity of not only meeting immediate needs, but also trying to mitigate future disaster impacts.

“We wanted to make our distributions as effective as we could,” said George Gigauri, IOM’s Chief of Mission in the capital Port Moresby. “So while food aid was an important component, we had to ensure that we also delivered wheelbarrows and agricultural tools while we had an opportunity.”

Tropical Cyclone Ita was initially identified over Solomon Islands as a category three tropical depression in early April, increasing in intensity before moving west to the shores of Papua New Guinea. It caused extensive damage to property, displaced many villagers and disrupted livelihoods.

Assessments conducted by the National and Provincial Disaster Centres reported 12,346 directly affected people. The number of houses destroyed was extensive, rising to 1,285, with 3,442 food gardens also being hit. Water and food supplies were contaminated or damaged by the storm and 67 classrooms had to be closed.

In response, IOM, as part of a multilateral emergency relief operation, supported the distribution of food and non-food aid to affected coastline communities in the Tufi area. IOM is working closely with the National Disaster Centre, UNOCHA and other stakeholders in the country on disaster risk reduction and resilience, disaster management, emergency response, transition and recovery.

“This country is being constantly buffeted by small-scale disasters,” says Gigauri. “We need to invest more in getting communities ready for hydro-meteorological and human induced hazards. That’s the only way to truly reduce the impact and prevent displacement.”

For more information please contact George Gigauri in Port Moresby, Email: ggigauri@iom.int

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