• On 18 June, a nine-month state of emergency was declared for the Southern Highlands due to increased outbreaks of violence which has led to a destruction of infrastructure and several thousand people being affected. UNICEF and partner agencies continue to provide assistance in accessible areas.
• On 26 June, the National Executive Council declared a Public Health Emergency in Morobe, as well as for neighbouring Madang and Eastern Highlands Provinces. WHO, UNICEF and other global polio eradication partners have mobilized to support the National Department of Health.
• Planning for the second round of integrated maternal and child health campaigns in several districts has commenced. Integrated maternal and child health campaigns greatly increase the number of children and women vaccinated, children screened and referred for malnutrition treatment, receiving doses of Vitamin A, de-worming tablets, and health and hygiene messaging.
• UNICEF has conducted a review of its implementation to date, which highlighted that UNICEF has already reached 13 Local Level Governance (LLG) areas (compared to the seven in the planning).
• During the reporting period, generous funding support was received from Education Can’t Wait for a Go to School Campaign; as well as from donor countries for activities in health, nutrition and WASH.
Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs
On 26 February 2018, Papua New Guinea was struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake – the first of several major quakes of 6.0 or greater magnitude and more than 190 ongoing tremors to shake the country. The earthquakes caused devastating landslides and widespread destruction across the Hela, Southern Highlands, Western and Enga Provinces. Families lost their homes, water sources, health facilities and the subsistence family farms/gardens they relied on for food. According to the inter-agency Disaster Management Team (DMT) response plan, 544,000 people (with 46 percent children under 18) were affected, of which 270,000 people, including 125,000 children, were estimated to be in need of immediate need of life-saving assistance. The Humanitarian Response plan targeted seven local governance areas in Hela and the Southern Highlands province. Since 28 March, due to inter-communal fighting, humanitarian operations in Tari (Hela Province) were greatly reduced due to them being inaccessible, resulting in the majority of UNICEF and other UN partners’ assistance being redirected to other people in need in Southern Highlands Province.
On 14 June, violence erupted in Mendi, the provincial capital town of Southern Highlands Province. An aircraft and its cargo contents (including vaccines destined for Hela Province) were destroyed and government buildings were burnt. UN staff that had been working from Mendi were moved to Mt Hagen in the neighbouring Western Highlands Province. Humanitarian work has continued in some peaceful areas of Southern Highlands, but the current situation is that a State of Emergency has been declared for Southern Highlands, additional PNG Defence Forces have been deployed. There are some access restrictions for the UN in both Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces. Despite this challenging situation for access, relief work was not totally suspended. WFP finished both rounds of food distribution primarily by helicopter; other UN Agencies adjusted plans for their work and UNICEF and its implementing partners continued its programmes of child-friendly spaces, repairs and installation of water systems and latrines and preparations for integrated mother and child health outreach campaigns in Hela and Southern Highlands – albeit with delays and changes to the roll out plans.