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PNG NGOs swing into action to help landslide victims

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Updated January 26, 2012 17:52:24

The Red Cross, Oxfam, World Vision and United Nations agencies are swinging into action to help people affected by Tuesday's massive landslide in Papua New Guinea.

A joint NGO assessment team is on its way to the landslide site, which is in the PNG highlands near to the ExxonMobil's liquid natural gas project at Hides.

World Vision was among the first to get one of their staff to the highlands.

World Vision's Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs Manager says conditions are difficult.

Presenter: Jemima Garrett

Speaker: Gerard Van Gramberg, World Vision's Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs Manager Listen: Windows Media

VAN GRAMBERG: Right now the information that we are getting is very sketchy. We have sent a staff person already to Tari and he reported last night that he does not have access to the disaster site due to logistic concerns. And the security is also a bit tense up there because the affected community is also requesting some sort of compensation. We are looking at joining a coordination body on the ground, I mean right now I do not have any information as to whether there is a coordination body on the ground. But a team is going and Red Cross is going, World Vision is joining the Red Cross team this afternoon. I understand .... is also going, Oxfam is also going, and they're going to assess the situation and work with whatever team that there is already in place by the government to conduct this initial impact assessment.

GARRETT: What contribution is World Vision hoping to make to the rescue and recovery effort?

VAN GRAMBERG: We want to first of all find out what are the needs and what are the gaps. There are several already, I'm made to understand, there has been some contribution made by some organisations, and until we get this report from the assessment and recommendations that will come out of it, then what we hope to do is to join with the rest of the NGOs to do what I would say a coordination effort, rather than just World Vision alone jumping in and doing something. It has to be a coordinated effort and it has to be some place where World Vision could

GARRETT: As you mentioned your staff member hasn't yet been able to visit the disaster site. Just how difficult will the logistics be in getting help to the area with the landslide across the road and the weather quite difficult too?

VAN GRAMBERG: That's something which again this team today when they go to the site they will assess it and let me know exactly as to what is really needed. I think the team that is going is very much experienced, they know what to do. So they will come up with a recommendation as to how access should be done. There is some access I'm also today but we had to confirm all of that.

GARRETT: The community that was hit by the landslide included people from all parts of Papua New Guinea. Will World Vision be playing a part in tracking exactly who is missing and what's happened to them?

VAN GRAMBERG: World Vision will support a coordinated effort. Once we get the recommendation as to the exact needs, then we will make a contribution. And as you all know, World Vision is very much concerned about children, and if children are affected then World Vision will commit to do something.

GARRETT: What sort of problems do you usually find in situations like this for children?

VAN GRAMBERG: Maybe the children they lost their parents in this situation. We do not know exactly what the situation is, but generally children can lose their parents, children can lose their schooling, that sort of thing, and also whether they have proper shelter at the moment, because I'm told it's raining, and whether there is some displacement, whether they have proper shelter. So these are some of the things that I feel the children could face, plus the trauma of the whole situation. I mean that could endanger their lives a lot.

GARRETT: People will be worried about relatives who have loved ones up in the landslide area. What can they do to find out if they're safe?

VAN GRAMBERG: One of the things I think this group what they will do is to work with this coordination group and to form what is called like a help desk, where information could be got from various people as to who was there are the present time and who is lost and their names could be obtained. And any information that's got from them could be posted on this help desk. I'm sure that will be one of the things that this team will do when they arrive today at Tari.

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