Papua New Guinea: Humanitarian Situation Report No. 6 (Mid-Year Report 01 January through 31 July 2018)

Situation Report
Originally published



• During the first half of 2018, the humanitarian situation in Papua New Guinea (PNG) deteriorated and remains grim due to three States of Emergency in PNG: Earthquake disaster for 4 provinces; Peace and Security for Southern Highlands; Public Health emergency due to polio outbreak.

• UNICEF's has reached over 37,000 children with measles and rubella vaccinations, 23,000 children with micronutrient powder; 64,000 people have been given access to safe drinking water.

• UNICEF is supporting the Government to respond to the polio outbreak. UNICEF is procuring over a million oral polio vaccines. In the first of four vaccination rounds, some 306,000 children have been vaccinated.

• Close to 400 child protection duty bearers, nurses, vaccinators, nutrition workers and other community health workers, teachers all trained on disaster recovery measures and back at work

• UNICEF has procured and managed 118.79 metric tons or 481.65 cubic meters of emergency education, health, nutrition, protection, water, and sanitation supplies for direct delivery, delivery through partners or as government-controlled supplies. The total value of procurement for emergency supplies and related services is over US$ 822,000.


01 January – 31 July 2018

544,000 people affected earthquakes, including 252,480 children

270,000 people need immediate life-saving assistance, including 125,000 children

Funding requirement for 2018 as part of the regional humanitarian appeal: US$13.7 million.

Funds received: US$3.64 million

Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs

On 5 January 2018 Kadovar Island volcano began erupting, continuing for weeks with lava covering 60% of the entire island. The population of the island fled to a nearby island, residing in overcrowded conditions. Eventually, they were moved by boat to the large, main island of PNG and re-located in five groups at a location known as Dandan Care Centre in East Sepik Province. Population numbers have fluctuated between approximately 550-640. Plans to resettle the internally displaced population to a larger more liveable area have stalled. The most recent assessment in May 2018 predicted that when NGO funding was finished there would be a worsening of already poor and risky living conditions.

On 26 February 2018, the Highlands Region was struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake – the first of several major quakes of 6.0 or greater magnitude and hundreds of still ongoing tremors. The earthquakes caused widespread destruction across Hela, Southern Highlands, Western and Enga Provinces. Families lost homes, water sources, health facilities, schools and subsistence family farms/gardens. 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 Provinces.

In April, violence in Tari and other parts of Hela Province led to UN staff being moved from the Province. On 14 June, violence erupted in Mendi, the provincial capital town of Southern Highlands Province. UN staff that had been working from Mendi were moved to Mt Hagen in the neighbouring Western Highlands Province. PNG Defence Forces were deployed and remain in both Provinces. Humanitarian work continued in some peaceful areas of Southern Highlands, but work was particularly delayed in the worst affected areas of Southern Highlands and in all of Hela Province due to access restrictions for the UN in both Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces. Until mid-July 2018, humanitarian assistance was restricted to only food and supply deliveries. However, the response scaled up after mid -July with an improving security situation. In late June, a Public Health Emergency was declared initially for three Provinces but now extending to a national outbreak response. Currently, there are three overlapping States of Emergency in PNG. There have also been outbreaks of measles and pertussis that triggered urgent, localised special immunisation campaigns.
However, safe access for responses has been expanding – although local negotiations and/or military escorts are required in many areas.