Papua New Guinea: Volcanic Eruptions - Emergency Plan of Action Final Report DREF n° MDRPG010

Situation Report
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The IFRC Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) was granted on 4 July 2019 for CHF 176,474 to the PNGRCS. The DREF reached over 14,618 people directly through PNGRCS operation in all camps in West New Britain and in Mamun villages.

With the DREF allocation, PNGRCS met the needs of affected people and implemented a strategy that included emergency shelter and essential household item distribution, WASH, Shelter and health and hygiene information dissemination to provide basic need and minimize the spread of communicable diseases over the five-month timeframe.
The scope and budget for this operation enabled the targeted population of approximately 14,175 people to be reached directly. The implementation of activities for the operation successfully reached 14,618 affected people and was completed by 4 December 2019. Unspent balance of CHF 36,939 will be returned to the DREF. The final financial report is available here.


Description of the disaster

This operation supported the unfolding situation in Papua New Guinea in response to two separate volcanic eruptions that took place during the last week of June 2019.

On 26 June 2019, the Ulawun volcano, about 130 kilometers southwest of the township of Rabaul, East New Britain, started emitting ash plumes. Ash plumes had risen to 50,000 ft, and the Aviation Colour Code was raised to Red. Mount Ulawun in West New Britain Province (New Britain island) erupted magmatic gas, ash and lava that started flowing on 25 June at 22:00 UTC after increased activity in recent weeks. According to the Papua New Guinea National Disaster Centre (NDC), between 3,000 and 5,000 people were voluntarily evacuated from the immediate vicinity of Ulawun. The ash plumes were moving generally towards south but slowed down gradually. Information with regards to the impact of Ulawun volcano eruption were as under:

  • Over 10,000 people were evacuated to government managed care centers, pre-identified evacuation sites and host communities in West New Britain and 427 persons sheltered in one care center in East New Britain.

  • The IOM Displacement tracking of 19 July registered 8,0411 persons in two formal care centers, one in Kabaya and the other in Bakada and six additional informal evacuation sites.

  • Food and other relief items were distributed by the PNGRCS branches’ staff and volunteers.

  • Ashfall was observed across Talesea district down to Kimbe. The only significant ashfall impact was to the Ubili population.

  • Some of the displaced populations were still visiting their homes to see their gardens and fix some damages from the ashfall but returning to care centers every night.

  • Provincial state of emergency was declared in West New Britain and emergency response plan was activated. The state of emergency ended on 29 July and the enforced relocation radius zone was reduced to 10 kilometers from the original 20 kilometers. On 3 August, Ulawun was again active with lava flowing from the cone and large plumes deposited ash past the Kimbe city area. Several families that had returned to their homes again moved away to safer locations. Within two days, the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory (RVO) returned the alert stage to 1 and the Provincial Disaster Coordinator sent a message to start the demobilization of internally displaced person (IDP) sites hosting families from outside the 10 km radius.

On 28 June, volcanic activity was reported on Manam volcano, Madang province, from about 07:00 hrs PNG time. According to RVO, on 29 June at around 07:45 hrs, the volcano was emitting volcanic ash up to 4,572 meters (15,000 feet), and superheated pyroclastic flowed to the west and northeast slopes of the volcano. Information with regards to the impacts of Manam volcano eruption were as under:

  • Approximately 755 households (3,775 people) moved to three care centres. The largest was Baliau with 447 households (2,235 people), followed by Kuluguma with 182 households (910 people), while 76 households (380 people) were staying in Boda and 50 households (250 people) in Yassa.

  • Madang disaster authorities identified immediate needs for food and water. The Provincial Disaster Centre remained in coordination with Madang Red Cross Branch to assist the affected population.