Papua New Guinea: Highlands Earthquake Situation Report No. 7 (as of 13 April 2018)

This report is produced by the National Disaster Centre and the Office of the Resident Coordinator in collaboration with humanitarian partners. It was issued by the Disaster Management Team Secretariat, and covers the period from 5 to 11 April 2018. The next report will be issued on or around 19 April 2018.

Background

  • 270 000 people are in need of assistance across four provinces of Papua New Guinea’s highlands.

  • 11, 041 households (55,205 people) remain displaced in nine care centres.

  • 91 per cent of health facilities are open, but almost 55 per cent have no water.

  • 15,726 students in 105 schools assessed as partially or completely damaged have had their access to education affected by the earthquake.

  • Humanitarian operations in and around Tari, provincial capital of Hela province, remain suspended since 28 March, but inter-communal tensions reportedly abated during the reporting period.

  • 194 aftershocks have occurred since the initial 26 February earthquake, of which six were of a 6.0 or greater magnitude.

270,000 people in need of assistance

$62M funding required

10,000 callers listened to messages containing lifesaving information per cent of health centres open metric tons of relief items transported

Situation Overview

On 26 February 2018, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit the Highlands Region of Papua New Guinea (PNG), affecting an estimated 544,000 people in five provinces – Enga, Gulf, Hela, Southern Highlands and Western provinces, with Hela and Southern Highlands the most affected. More than 270,000 people, including 125,000 children, have been left in immediate need of life-saving assistance. Since the initial 26 February earthquake, 194 aftershocks have occurred, of which six were of a 6.0 or greater magnitude.

The latest tracking figures available from the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) implemented as part of the Shelter Cluster response, indicate that 11,041 households (approximately 55,205 people) remain displaced due to the earthquake, of which 1,250 households remain in nine care centres while 9,879 households remain within their communities.

The Shelter Cluster has proposed to adopt common definitions of settlement types defining a care centre as a displacement site where people are hosted away from their community or area of origin, and affected community as a community where people are still living within their community, even if displaced locally from their damaged/destroyed home. Two shelter response options and recommended packages have been proposed for cluster members’ endorsement corresponding to the two target groups defined above: (1) IDP household ShelterNFI return kit (for those in care centres); and (2) community reconstruction toolkit (for affected communities).
More than 90 per cent of health facilities in Hela and Southern Highlands (79 of 86) are now open and functional, but 13 of these health facilities sustained severe structural damage that continues to pose serious occupational threats to all users. Refurbishment of earthquake related structural damages remains a challenge. In particular, 55 per cent of health facilities urgently need access to safe water sources.
Traditional water sources were destroyed by earthquake-induced landslides and landslips. Water quality testing is already underway. The continual lack of access to safe drinking water significantly increases risks of waterborne diseases outbreak among affected and displaced persons. There have been sporadic reports of increasing cases of diarrheal diseases and gastrointestinal infections at health facilities in Hela and SHP due to consumption of contaminated surface water.

Since 28 March, humanitarian programmes in and around Tari, the provincial capital of Hela province, have been suspended due to increased tension and inter-communal fighting. Many partners have temporarily relocated humanitarian staff to other locations, including to the Southern Highlands provincial capital, Mendi, in view of the situation. Humanitarian partners aim to resume relief work as soon as the security situation allows. In the past week, the situation appears to be stabilizing in and around Tari, with ongoing efforts to negotiate an end to the inter-communal violence deployed by national authorities.

On 9 April, a joint team of UNICEF and Provincial Department of Education staff returning from distribution of Safe Temporary Learning Space (STLS) materials in Nipa/Kutubu district encountered a roadblock in Nipa town, manned by a group of armed men and boys. One UNICEF staff member sustained a minor injury due a rock thrown and breaking the window of his vehicle. Provincial and district officials, as well as local community representatives, have publicly apologized for the incident, and committed to ensure the safety of humanitarian staff and operations in the province. UN humanitarian operations are ongoing in Southern Highlands province.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
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