With an unseasonably large amount of rain, flooding and landslides have overwhelmed this country of 4.5 million people, most living in remote areas. A few weeks ago a deadly landslide wiped out one village, killing 18 in the process and injuring scores of others. Flooding in the south has resulted in a significant number of homes being destroyed. Most disturbing has been the cemeteries damaged, opening graves and causing dead bodies to float away. As a result, the water is undrinkable even as it continues its destructive path.
The latest bad news comes from the north in the area of the Sepic River and the Western Highland Province. Rains there have stranded 20,000 people as the bridge that was the only link to the rest of Papua New Guinea was washed away. Not only are there hundreds displaced by the flooding, but the damage to the bridge has limited escape from the afflicted area as well as cutting farmers off from vital markets needed for their livelihood.
Commenting about the situation, Colonel Andrew Kalai, Territorial Commander for Papua New Guinea said, 'Because we have been besieged by so many disasters all over the country in such a compact period of time, we have used all of our disaster reserves. We need to respond to this growing disaster in the north but we cannot, as we have no funds left.' Complicating the rescue and relief attempts are the remoteness of many of the victims, the lack of operable roads even under the best weather conditions and the distance between where relief supplies are and where the needs are. Even providing simple items is extremely expensive as many areas are accessible only by helicopter.
Required by the disaster victims are tents, food items, cooking utensils, gardening and other tools as many lost everything in the flood waters. 'The most immediate need is money,' continued Kalai, 'We have the personnel ready to go and we know what to do but without funds we have to stand hopelessly by and watch.'
For more information contact The Salvation Army at PO Box 1323, Boroko, NCD Papua New Guinea. PH: (675) 325 7676 or e-mail at Andew_Kalai@png.salvationarmy.org