Social Concerns Notes – August 2016

Controversy as Tjandra company seeks monopoly over PNG rice

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/08/controversy-as-tjandra-company-seeks-monopoly-over-png-rice.html  29 August, 2016

PAPUA New Guinea’s trade minister Richard Maru warned the government that its proposed rice policy could have a drastic impact on PNG in terms of its trade ties with Australia.

Mr Maru was responding to questions from Rabaul MP Dr Allan Marat, who asked if a policy which will give a single company a monopoly will strain ties with Australia. PNG imports K700 million worth of rice annually and Australian company Trukai is the major importer. The government has recently decided to implement an import substitution policy and awarded a tender for a K4.8 billion project in Central Province to Naima Agroindustry, against competitors including Trukai. Naima’s principal is the colourful entrepreneur Djoko Tjandra and it wants a 20-year tax holiday and the imposition of an 80% duty on all rice that it does not import. This will hike the price of rice by 60% and lock Trukai and the other major suppliers out of the market.

 

TB in PNG: the impact on children

August 25, 2016 http://devpolicy.org/in-brief/tb-png-impact-children-20160825/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=2c6cb74e8d-Devpolicy_News__Aug_12_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-2c6cb74e8d-227683090

A new report released by ChildFund Australia draws much-needed attention to the impact of Papua New Guinea’s tuberculosis (TB) epidemic on children. The report, authored by journalist Jo Chandler, notes that 26 per cent of confirmed TB cases in PNG are in paediatric patients, but that this likely underrepresents the true burden of disease among young Papua New Guineans. Globally, children represent about ten per cent of TB cases.

Though it is well-established that PNG is in the grip of a serious TB epidemic, an important contribution this report makes is to highlight the fact that infants and young children are more vulnerable than adults to developing extrapulmonary TB (TB in parts of the body other than the lungs, also known as disseminated TB). Not only is this form of TB more difficult to diagnose, but it can result in profound physical and/or intellectual disability – conditions for which there is little formal social support in PNG. Even those children who make a full recovery often miss out on months or years of education while they undergo treatment.

The report also explores some of the reasons why children are susceptible to TB infection. Among them is the fact that TB case finding is largely a passive endeavour in PNG: rather than health workers actively going out to screen those who have been exposed to TB – including children and other family members and relatives who share a home with a confirmed TB patient – and providing preventive therapy where appropriate, most cases are only identified when patients present to health facilities. Distance from health facilities and the costs of seeking care may prolong the length of time that they are infectious (once on treatment patients are no longer infectious).

Addressing the TB epidemic will require substantial investment in PNG’s healthcare systems as well as across the broader social determinants of health, including nutrition, housing, and access to basic services. Given the current economic situation in PNG, including major cuts to health services, foreign donors will no doubt continue to play a significant role. Only AU$3.3m (K8m) has been released by the PNG government to respond to TB, and a loan request has reportedly been made to the World Bank (p.13). Australia has committed $60 million in aid for TB control in PNG since 2011 through to 2017; as of April this year, $29.2 of that had been spent. And in June, USAID announced a new package of support for diagnosing and treating multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) in PNG. In addition to in-country health systems support, the ChildFund report also recommends investment in medical research and the development of TB vaccines and improved treatments, especially those targeted at children.

Childfund report see  https://www.childfund.org.au/publications/TBinPNG

 

Ministerial bribery attempt highlights forestry corruption

01 August 2016 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/08/ministerial-bribery-attempt-highlights-forestry-corruption.html#more

WHEN Papua New Guinea Forestry Minister Douglas Tomuriesa last week confirmed an attempt to bribe him with “a bagful of money”, it once again brought to light the illegal exploitation of PNG’s forests by foreign interests. In this case, the Malaysian national who offered the bribe was deported but Tomuriesa admitted that many people, especially foreigners in the forestry industry, had tried to “entice” him in the past. But he said he had performed his ministerial duties “based on his ethical values and conscience”, adding that the main factor was his wife’s plea for him to live an honest life.

“This is the kind of stance I’m taking at Forestry and I wish to leave a legacy of a corruption- free office during my term,” Tomuriesa said, saying he was “cleaning up a mess in the office” including and the deportation of the foreign national who tried to bribe him.

In PNG, the Land Act facilitates much forest clearance in addition to much illegal logging. The Act was supposed to help customary landowners convert forested land into agriculture, in partnership with investors but logging companies, mainly from Malaysia and Australia, saw it as a potential bonanza.

According to a Greenpeace report, between 2003 and 2011 over five million hectares of land, mainly along the Papuan coast and the islands of New Britain and New Ireland, was leased under Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs). This equates to more than 11% of the country’s land area and over 16% of its accessible forests. Exports of logs grew by 20% in 2011 alone, mostly from within SABLs and mostly headed for China. Because of growing international concern over the improper leasing of customary land, the PNG government in early 2011 issued a moratorium on issuance of SABLs and ordered a commission of inquiry.  This inquiry made recommendations but left existing SABLs in place.

Unfortunately, the improper leasing of customary land — referred to by many in PNG as ‘land grabs’ — is still playing out.

According to a 2014 report from Chatham House in the United Kingdom, which monitors illegal logging, the findings of PNG’s commission of inquiry into the SABLs and associated logging showed that over 90% of them were illegal and that the process was entirely corrupt.

 

Sorcery killings have increased, says Kwa
Post Courier, August 04, 2016

SORCERY-related attacks and killings have increased since the Sorcery Act was repealed in 2013 according to Constitutional & Law Reform Commission secretary Dr Eric Kwa. He did not say by how much but said that it was not the repeal but the belief in sorcery that had fueled the increase in the past three years. He said that the evil of sorcery-related killings has now taken on an ugly form in the hiring of killers. “I can tell you that it’s taken on a very ugly form now, in the sense that, now they have got hired people. “You can hire them to target sorcerers and kill sorcerers, so you’ve got people on hire.

“That’s how extensive it has grown now. “We’ve got someone who has now placed on Facebook on how to kill a sorcerer and how to extract confessions,” Dr Kwa said. He said it was believed that the Sorcery Act should be removed and that sorcery-related killings be treated as assault or murder. “Unfortunately incidents of sorcery have actually increased since 2013. “Now we think that it’s not because of the repeal of the law but it’s because of the changing socio-cultural economic situation of the country,” Dr Kwa said. “There are a lot more other things that are happening. We think that the increase in the incidence of sorcery-related killings is attributed to so many other factors and not law alone.”

 

Contaminated water sources in PNG blamed for stunting and malnutrition in children
Post Courier, July 28, 2016

Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia Children in the country are rated among the most stunted in the world in a report from WaterAid which cites a shortage of clean water and decent sanitation as one of the main reasons for the root cause, widespread malnutrition. PNG rates fourth on the international development charity’s list, while nearby Timor Leste is at the top. More than two in four of the child population there are considered to be suffering from restricted growth, and the knock-on effects on their physical, cognitive and emotional development. The chief executive of WaterAid Australia, Paul Nichols says while the general population might not make the connection between water quality, poor sanitation and child development, governments certainly should.

 

NRI releases report on its assessment on residential property market prices in Port Moresby
Post Courier, July 28, 2016

The Papua New Guinea National Research Institute (PNG NRI) has released its latest report today.

The Issues Paper 19, “Assessment of market prices for residential properties in Port Moresby: Do location and property type matter” presents a snapshot of residential property market trends in Port Moresby. The report examined the supply and prices of residential properties in Port Moresby and investigates whether property type and location influence the prices. The article revealed that more houses were available in areas where people with medium to high income live and housing and land prices were higher in and near the central business district than in other areas. It also highlighted that the construction phase of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project played an important role in driving housing prices up. The report recommended that in order to promote an efficient housing market, it is necessary to make customary land more accessible, reduce import duties on building materials, train more people in property development and support research on uses of local building materials.

 

Australia and PNG launch braille machines
Post Courier, July 29, 2016

The Australian Government today launched four braille machines with the National Department of Education (NDoE) in Port Moresby. This support will assist NDoE to emboss PNG teaching and learning material and examination papers that can be provided to blind and vision-impaired students.

The machines will help blind and vision-impaired students in PNG attend and remain at school by providing the department with the equipment it needs to develop the materials that blind and vision-impaired students need to learn.

The machines can also be used to print exam materials, which is particularly important for blind and vision-impaired students who are undertaking national exams to progress to further study.

Ms Edgecombe said the launch of the braille machines reflects how the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea are working together to make education more available to people with a range of disabilities. “Australia and Papua New Guinea recognise the importance of including people with disabilities in their development cooperation activities. Research shows that some 15 per cent of the world’s population have disabilities and that people with a disability are at greater risk of experiencing poverty.”  “We know that educating people with disabilities brings more knowledge and different perspectives to the decision-making table, whether it be in government, business or the local community. This leads to better-informed, more inclusive policies for promoting economic development,”  Ms Edgecombe said.

 

Nuns, inmates reconcile
Post Courier, August 02, 2016

PRISONERS at Bihute jail near Goroka have reconciled with Catholic nuns of the order of Sisters of Mercy Works. The reconciliation means that the sisters will resume their programs inside the jail. They were stopped at the beginning of the year after the nunnery was attacked and ransacked by ex-convicts and escapees from the jail. Yesterday’s events were organised by the jail commander Superintendent Simon Lakeng at the jail.

Sister of Mercy country director Maryanne Kolkia, who was brutally beaten during the holdup, told the prisoners that the services the nuns were providing in jails were charity works which the prisoners should appreciate and make use of. “We the Sisters of Mercy and other churches and non-governmental organisations are doing these work for you the prisoners to benefit from,” Sister Kolkia said. “We do not expect anything from you in return but the way several criminals are targeting us is a concern that needs to be addressed.”

The sisters said they will continue with their programs at Bihute which encompass FODE courses, adult literacy courses, sewing and many other programs for the benefit of the prisoners.

Superintendent Lakeng thanked the Sisters of Mercy for their faithfulness in assisting prisoners. He told the prisoners that due to financial constraints, many rehabilitation works in the prison are not offered.

“But I want you the prisoners to keep yourselves busy with the programs provided by the Sisters of Mercy and other organisations and respect these people who are spending their time and resources to help you,” Supt Lakeng said. The prisoners, both men and women, apologised to the Catholic sisters, adding that they will support and respect them. In April earlier this year, 12 fully armed men drove into the Sisters of Mercy compound in Goroka, brutally assaulted three sisters and stole personal items like laptops, mobile phones and cash money. One of the attackers had been caught after a police road block while the others are still on the run.

 

Rio Tinto’s billion-dollar mess: ‘unprincipled, shameful and evil’

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/08/rio-tintos-billion-dollar-mess-unprincipled-shameful-and-evil.html.  22 August 2016

Extracts  Read the complete article here

THE gaping hole carved into mountains was at one point the world’s largest open-cut copper mine.

Right on Australia’s doorstep, it delivered riches beyond imagining and a mess big enough to tear a country apart. This controversial pit became the flashpoint for a bitter civil war in Papua New Guinea in the 1990s that cost as many as 20,000 lives. Now, 27 years after the war forced the closure of the Panguna mine on the island of Bougainville, resources giant Rio Tinto has finally made the decision to cut its losses and walk away. In a decision slammed as “remarkably unprincipled, shameful and evil”, the mining giant has also side-stepped demands for a billion-dollar clean up. Furious local leaders on Bougainville – struggling for cash and contemplating forming an independent nation – are threatening an international campaign to shame the company into making a contribution. But they also want Australia – as the former colonial power responsible for authorising the mine – to contribute to a special fund to repair rivers poisoned by toxic sludge and compensate the people who lost their homes. “It would be a big amount of money that would be required to restore as much as possible the damaged environment and relocated villages,” John Momis, president of Bougainville’s autonomous government, told Fairfax Media.

“Probably a billion dollars. Nobody really knows, but that would be about the amount of money required.” Rio Tinto has refused. Correspondence obtained by Fairfax shows the dual London-Melbourne listed giant insisting it has no responsibility for environmental or other consequences from the mine.

“We believe that [the company] was fully compliant will all regulatory requirements and applicable standards at the time,” Rio Tinto executive Joanne Farrell wrote to Dr Momis on August 6.

Dr Momis said Rio Tinto must take responsibility for the mess it left behind, and has challenged the company over its claims of corporate social responsibility. “They justify their position by saying they operated under PNG law, although everybody knows the people of Bougainville never accepted [that] PNG law was a just law,” the Bougainville president said. “When Rio walks away like this, the resource owners are left high and dry for no fault of their own. They are now going to be left with this hugely destroyed environment.” “It is a major disaster which the people of Bougainville do not deserve

 

Marriage laws to be amended
Post Courier, August 23, 2016

CHANGES to marriage laws are ready to be presented in Parliament, probably during the current session. On the eve of their presentations, the Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2015 and the Matrimonial (Clauses) Bill 2015 were discussed at a child protection workshop in Port Moresby yesterday. These Bills when passed by Parliament will be vital for the implementation of Children Protection Law, or Lukautim Pikinini Law, because they correlate.

Religion, Youth and Community Development Secretary Anna Solomon told provincial welfare officers about the Child Protection law, and briefly explained that her department and stakeholders were not looking at the children alone but family as a whole and the issues that affect children. Currently, there is no definition of marriage applicable to both customary and non-customary marriages. Thus, a definition is required to ensure that all marriages regardless, meet certain basic requirements regarding consent and marriage age before they are legally valid. Proposed clauses 2A and 2B of Matrimonial (Clauses) Bill achieve this purpose. The changes also synchronised the age of a child (18 years) with the Lukautim Pikinini Act 2015 that was passed by Parliament this year.

The proposed changes deal with minors who are being forced to marry before the age of 18. The penalty for the offender range from a fine of K10,000 to K20,000 and jail terms of five and seven years.

Ms Solomon noted that the civil registry will only recognise first customary marriages but will recognise children as those who have not yet turned 18 years old, that is, in the best interest of the child – that in itself is child protection.

The new laws also recognise the effort of the stay-home spouse – either man or woman – in caring of the household. “We are now recognising that service and have strengthened that in the best interest of our children,” Ms Solomon added. “Some of the custody considerations outlined are for courts to consider parental responsibility. Many of our women or spouses who are not working are left very vulnerable when there is a marriage breakup. And not only are they left vulnerable but are left with all other issues, they really have nowhere to go.” Under the proposed law, a spouse’s indirect contributions as home-maker to the economic stability and security of the family, including in particular the acquisition of the property, will be recognised. The court is required to take into account any financial and non-financial contribution made by a party to the marriage.

 

Malabag releases birth log

The National, August 24, 2016

A MERE 36 per cent of pregnant women delivered their babies in health facilities last year, according to Health Minister Michael Malabag. He said this yesterday when presenting the Department of Health 2015 Health Sector annual management report. Malabag revealed that:

  • 138, 442 out of an estimated 263,545 pregnant women (or 60 per cent) visited antenatal clinics; and,
  • 81,718 (36 per cent) of pregnant women delivered their babies in health facilities.

The figures represented 86 per cent of last year’s activity reports from the Health Department’s 2608 facilities countrywide. This was made up of 1860 aid posts, 530 health centres, 78 urban clinics, 11 district hospitals and 20 hospitals in the country, with churches partnering health to manage 47 per cent of the facilities.
“While this figure excludes Port Moresby General Hospital, more needs to be done to encourage mothers to come to health facilities to have a supervised delivery to prevent unnecessary death resulting from complications during childbirth,” Malabag said. “Despite our achievements in a number of reforms and programmes, we are still faced with challenges in the areas of maternal and child health, communicable and lifestyle diseases.”

 

PNG lawyer in new bid for Manus detainees
Post Courier, August 24,2016, 05:00 pm, Story Courtesy of RNZI

 

A Papua New Guinea lawyer Ben Lomai is expected to apply for the Supreme Court today to make a ‘summary judgment’ on the plight of the refugees sent by Australia on Manus. The court ruled in April that the Manus Island camp was illegal, but it is still running and the fate of the asylum seekers and the refugees remains unclear. Mr Lomai had been seeking rulings for several months asking the courts to order the closure of the camps and for the inmates to be taken to Australia. But the Supreme Court discharged his most recent application on Monday, saying there was no proper application before it containing the required question for clarity.

The Post Courier said that because there were also other proceedings before other courts dealing with the same issue, the court discharged part of Mr Lomai’s application. Mr Lomai now wants to obtain a summary judgment to be able to proceed with his bid to secure the release of the refugees and to win compensation for them for being held by Australia illegally. The court repeated its ruling that both the PNG and Australian governments are responsible for following the court order that the Manus Island detention centre must be closed.

 

John Momis brutally rebuts Peter O’Neill’s BCL share ploy

Post Courier, 25 August 2016

BOUGAINVILLE president Dr John Momis has given PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill a “final opportunity” to transfer the 17.4% equity in Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) bequeathed to it by Rio Tinto to the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG). If this does not happen, Momis said, “the ABG must use other means to keep clear control of decisions on Panguna. “The ABG cannot allow your bad decisions to stand,”Momis said. “In particular, we will cancel BCL’s exploration licence under the Bougainville Mining Act [and] seek a new developer by inviting tenders using powers under our Mining Act.”  Momis said the cancellation of the licence are likely to make BCL shares almost worthless, including the 19.2% equity PNG has held in the company since 1972.

He said if Panguna re-opens, the national government could retain its equity involvement. “But if interference in ABG control of mining continues, we have no choice but to cancel the licence and completely end PNG involvement in Panguna.” Momis accused O’Neill of purporting to “know better than the ABG about Bougainville’s mining policy needs; you substitute your views for ours.” He pointed out that, under the Bougainville Peace Agreement, responsibility for Bougainville’s mining policy was transferred and that this now a matter solely for the ABG.

“We have given careful attention to mining policy,” he said. “We give landowners veto power over the grant of mining licences, giving them real and direct involvement in decision-making. “They must be satisfied with conditions and benefits before a project proceeds.” “A minority 17.4% BCL equity that you propose will not give them any control over decision-making,” he added. Dr Momis said the ABG believes O’Neill is making ill-informed decisions about a complex situation that he does not understand and which does not benefit landowners. “Bougainvilleans ask why you interfere in our mining policy,” he said. “Do you fear that ABG control of Panguna could provide the revenue needed for Bougainville independence? “Interfering in mining issues only causes deep anger in Bougainville. That is likely to cause increased support for independence.

“The only way you can now reduce support for independence is to work in cooperation with the ABG to make people see that autonomy really meets the needs of Bougainville. “Supporting our mining policy is an essential start. “That will not reduce landowner involvement in decisions about Panguna, or their sharing fairly in revenue, for the Bougainville Mining Act ensures their full involvement in both.”

 

Backfire: Panguna landowners refuse O’Neill’s offer of shares

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/08/backfire-panguna-landowners-refuse-oneills-offer-of-shares.html

PANGUNA mine-affected landowner associations and the Meekamui Government of Unity, meeting at Kuri village in Bougainville late last week, have refused to accept Peter O’Neill‘s transfer of Rio Tinto shares to them rather than to the Bougainville Government (ABG). O’Neill’s offer, made two weeks ago, was seen as a crude attempt to aggravate divisions between the ABG and groups with which its relationships have not always been smooth. But the move has backfired, instead drawing once dissident groups closer together and probably moving more Bougainvilleans to contemplate a future without Papua New Guinea. A referendum on independence is due to be held in the autonomous province before 2020. While “appreciating” the PNG government’s decision to transfer 17.4% of BCL shares to landowners, the assembled leaders requested O’Neill to transfer them to the ABG “to hold on behalf of all the people of Bougainville”.

 

Cervical cancer is avoidable: Hukula

The National August 25, 2016

Cervical cancer is preventable yet thousands of Papua New Guinean women succumb to it, often leaving behind their children and loved ones. Apart from the mainstream health services,  private clinics and non-government organisation efforts to fight the dreaded illness, a retired nurse has decided to dedicate her retired life to doing her part in a small way to save her fellow Papua New Guineans. “My greatest passion is to make sure women do not die from cervical cancer because it is the most preventable cancer of all cancers,,” says Sr Hellen Hukula, owner of the Well Women Clinic in Port Moresby.
That was the motivation that drove Hukula to start a women’s clinic after retiring from nursing.
After 30 years of serving as a nurse in  hospitals and health centres, the mother of six and grandmother of nine from Tuvi village in East Sepik is determined to see women access  information and service to prevent deaths from cervix cancer. Hukula had worked in the gynaecology section of the Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH) for 19 years, an experience that has continued to remain beneficial for womenfolk in this country. After seeing the need to do something away from routine, Hukula started the Well Women Clinic on July 11, 2011. The clinic conducts Pap smear tests, checks blood pressure, weight, blood sugar, treats sexually transmitted infections, does pregnancy tests, breast cancer checks, family planning ovulation and do referrals to PMGH. It is located at Waigani, just behind Anglicare.

In 2014, Hukula was offered a scholarship by the New Zealand government.
She underwent four weeks of intensive training on Pap smear testing competency skills in Auckland.
After the training, her confidence was boosted to keep doing what she had been doing.
“They taught me so many things, how to recognise the symptoms, how to recognise women with cervical cancer, read results and send them off – those kind of things.

PNG’s revenues collapse – and recovery is a long way off

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/08/pngs-revenues-collapse-and-recovery-is-a-long-way-off.html#more. 26 August 2016

PAPUA New Guinea’s revenue base has shrunken back to where it was a decade ago despite the economy having doubled in size in that time. The PNG Treasury’s 2016 mid-year outlook shows a collapse in revenue for a second consecutive year. Australian economist Stephen Howes, who is director of ANU’s Development Policy Centre, said a central reason for the reduction is a disappearance in taxes from the mining and petroleum sector. Dr Howes said that amid a general economic slowdown with a fall in global commodity prices, PNG is caught between old, declining resource projects and newer ones that are not generating tax revenue. “It’s an unfortunate situation, but it’s one that is going to last for several years,”Howes said. “The new projects, like PNG LNG, are not going to generate a lot of tax for say another seven or eight years. “So PNG’s going to have to get used to coping with a much more revenue-constrained environment than it has been in the past,” he said.

 

Where to with betelnut? Beyond bans and spot fines

By Busa Jeremiah Wenogo on August 25, 2016

Where to with betelnut? Beyond bans and spot fines

Port Moresby residents are now warned not to chew betelnut in public places as the National Capital District Commission (NCDC) imposes a 500 Kina spot fine on chewing and spitting. A combination of the nut mixed with powder lime and mustard produces the infamous “colour red” that is now responsible for drawing ire from the public and now the hefty spot fine. The spot fine came into effect on 1 August 2016, just a couple of months ahead of the FIFA Under 20 World Cup to be staged in Port Moresby. It seems a trend is developing where the city commission toughens up on the sale and consumption of betelnut when a major event is about to take place in the city. We saw this last year when the city hosted the 2015 Pacific Games and a ban on betelnut sale in Port Moresby was introduced.

The betelnut ban forced people to resort to illegal means to earn income, often at the expense of poor farmers back in the villages, particularly along the Hiritano Highway of the Central Province. In Port Moresby the ban gave rise to a thriving “middleman” business, most of whom used the law to their advantage. The imposition of the K500 spot fine against chewers means that the war against betelnut will come to its complete cycle.

When the betelnut ban came into effect last year, a mother was run over by a vehicle while fleeing from the pursuing betelnut enforcers. The picture of her child sitting next to her lifeless body on the side of the road, captured on the front page of one daily newspaper, was heart-wrenching. Her death was tragic yet it heralded the beginning of the ugly, and I might add fatal, side of the ban. No one was immune to the ban, including the Motu Koitabu villages. The death of a Hanuabada man and several injuries sustained by the villagers are remnants of the harrowing impact of the ban, another tragic story. A few weeks ago a youth from Tari in Hela Province was shot dead by police when he was alleged to have smuggled betelnut bags into the city in his vehicle. Since then, his relative can be seen marching up and down the street in Erima with a wheelbarrow seeking donations from the public allegedly to repatriate the body back to the village, and a “laplap” placard demanding retribution from the government.

The commission itself needs to also make it clear whether it is imposing a “total ban” on the sale and consumption of betelnut, or only “restricting” its sale and consumption to designated areas within the city. In spite of the ban the betelnut trade is thriving in all parts of the city and at times in full view of the public, including the betelnut enforcers.

 

Carteret climate refugees seek home

Post Courier, August 11, 2016

At only 1.5 metres above sea level at their highest point, the Carteret Islands are some of the first to succumb to the rising ocean tides. ABC reported that the grassroots Tulele Peisa group, which means “sailing the waves on our own” in the local Halia language, is hoping to relocate more than half of the population by 2020. They have secured land for new homes on the main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, to the east of mainland Papua New Guinea. Tulele Peisa formed in late 2006 after the Council of Elders on the islands decided to establish their own relocation program. The group’s chief executive, Ursula Rakova, says the encroaching tides on the islands have a major impact on people’s health. “We’re beginning to get more requests for people wanting to move because of the situation and the dire need for food,” she says. “People are not able to eat what they should be eating,”

The storm surges not only wash away houses, but also vegetable gardens, which are critical for the islanders’ survival. With no cash economy on the Carterets, the only source of food is what people are able to grow for themselves. Ms Rakova says the relocations are also vital to give more space to those who want to stay on the islands. “Giving justice to the elderly is the most important thing that Tulele Peisa can do. They elderly people do not want to move,” Rakova said

According to ABC reports the group initially secured 25 hectares of land from the Catholic Church — enough to resettle about 100 people from 10 families. The church has just made another 60 hectares of land available, where Ms Rakova says they’re hoping to relocate 25 more families. But the access to safe and secure land is only half the battle. “Building houses for the families to live in is our biggest hurdle at the moment,” she says. “We have to keep looking for funds to build homes before we can actually move islanders to mainland Bougainville.”

 

Raihu health center scale down staff

Post Courier, August 11, 2016

The Raihu district hospital in Aitape Sandaun Province which is the major referral hospital to Aitape-Lumi and Nuku districts has started scaling down of its staff due to insufficient funding. The district hospital is currently facing funding insufficiency from the outstanding grants from the National Christian Health Services Arm of the national department of Health in Port Moresby. According to Medical Superintendent and Chairman Dr Athanasius Kari since May this year the funding for the hospital operations and staff salary has not been given. Kari added that due the current situation he health service has exhausted all means of financing the hospital operations and staff salaries which the hospital has taken action to scale down on administration and clinical services. The hospital staff will continue to work to assist dying emergencies and referred dying emergencies including women for obstetric care only. Thus, other services including outpatient and clinics will be closed for an indefinite period until further notice. The Raihu district hospital board endorsed this decision to scale down services with the Diocese of Aitape administration to cope with the financial situation.

 

Budget cut hurts health services

The National, August 16, 2016

THE Government’s budget cut of nearly K50 million this year for church-run health services has affected the service. Madang provincial health director Marcus Kachau told The National yesterday that because of the budget cut, health workers’ salaries had not been paid. Kachau said health workers at Josephstaal Health Centre in Middle Ramu district had not received their pay since early this year. The health centre is operated by the Catholic Church. Kachau said he was still negotiating with the Health Department for the use of K90,000 from the province’s health budget to help Josephstaal health workers. They were still awaiting response from headquarters. The health centre caters for more than 10,000 people in the Middle Ramu district and remote inland parts of Bogia. Kachau said the Madang provincial government wanted to help the health workers, but the two warrants released this year did not have funding. “Warrants for the release of funds were received but they came without cash flow … “pepa nating, no money,” he said.

 

Bainings win SABL court battle
Post Courier, August 30,2016,

LANDOWNERS in East New Britain Province have won a landmark legal battle to retake their “hijacked” land from the controversial Special Agriculture and Business Lease (SABL). The people of Baining in Gazelle district had taken the State and developer to court over the SABL deal which has now been declared null and void by the National Court in Kokopo last Thursday.

THE proceedings before the court was for a judicial review of the decisions of the State and developer over the process of acquiring the customary lands for SABL, described and known as Baram-Gransait land over Portions 908C and 909C comprising 10,980 hectares and 23,556 hectares in the Inland Baining area.

The landowners sought judicial review alleging that the process of acquisition of customary land for Business and Agriculture Leases pursuant to Land Act 1996 were not followed, that there was no diligent and no meaningful consultation with landowners taken by Minister and Secretary for Lands and that the Minister had failed to comply with the statutory preconditions for acquisition of customary land by the State and for granting of lease for special agriculture and business purposes.

Justice Lenalia Selatial said in his 37-page decision that “the process was hijacked from appropriate landowners” as shown in evidence presented during the proceedings and breached the Land Act and the Constitution. He said the Minister can only grant SABLs when he is satisfied that reasonable inquiry has been carried out by officers of his department and the provincial lands office to establish that landowners agree for the land to be compulsorily acquired.

“I am not satisfied that the three-day meetings held at Malabonga High School community hall on September 1-3, 2010, met the requirements of meaningful consultation.” with landowners. “Those decisions cannot stand and having discussed the evidence by all parties and issues involved and the position in law, the court declares that decisions are null and void,” Justice Lenalia ruled.

 

Goroka University reconciliation: No other way but peace

13 August 2016   http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/08/the-goroka-university-reconciliation-there-is-no-other-way-but-peace.html#more

IT IS always a proud moment for peace advocates when they see peace being built and maintained in society. One such moment came for me when I had the opportunity to witness the peace and reconciliation ceremony between Papua New Guinea highlands students at the University of Goroka late last month. The master of ceremonies took the stage and took the microphone to make few announcements while the pastors’ fraternal and the choir sang. The event took place about four weeks after a serious fight among students.

The ceremony opened with a word of prayer and Bishop Francisco of the Catholic Diocese of Goroka gave a sermon on peace. He said peace was a gift from God and it must come from one’s own heart.

For three-quarters of the day various speakers then offered words of wisdom to enable the students to reconcile. When everyone finished speaking, the student leaders were called to come forward and pledge peace. The Chimbu and Eastern Highlands students apologised for what had happened while the upper highlands students accepted their apology and pledged everlasting peace on the university campus. They then proceeded to sign the peace treaty. Student leaders from each highlands province came forward to sign before the magistrate and police commander. They pledged to maintain peace at all times and were presented with a bible each by a senior pastor.

While the crowd was watched eagerly, the Chimbu student announced he would compensate the Western Highlands and Enga students K20,000 which he presented in an envelope.

The Eastern Highlands student leader presented another K20,000. The Western Highlands and Enga students humbly accepted the compensation and promised they would pay back after speaking to their parents and respective provincial and local level governments.

 

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Social Concerns Notes – July 2016

No graduating doctors to put strain on health services – Health Secretary

Post Courier, June 28, 2016

Papua New Guinea public health system will feel the effect as no new doctors will graduate from the University of Papua New Guinea School of Medical and Health Sciences next year.

The country has one of the worse doctor to patient ratio in the world, a World Health Organization report showed the worrying statistics in its 2008 Report as, density of physicians per 1,000 population is 0.05.

The UPNG medical school had already resumed class but, the weeks of boycott of classes by students have affected its learning hours. Higher Education Secretary Prof. David Kavanamur revealed that “The UPNG Medical School is in full swing teaching but there will no graduates in 2017, but in 2018 because of learning hours being lost (due to the student boycott).” Health Secretary Pascoe Kase said the delay of producing doctors to serve in the public hospitals is serious.   “Any delay will mean that the health sector, which already have workers shortage become worse off,” Kase told Loop PNG.  “We need doctors to graduate on big numbers so they can address the critical work force shortage.

 

In praise of those dedicated & skilled rural health workers

29 July 2016   http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/07/in-praise-of-those-dedicated-skilled-rural-health-workers.html#more

WITHOUT Papua New Guinea’s rural health workers I wouldn’t be alive today.  Lavongai Island never had its own doctor during my more than 40 years connection with the place. The best we had were health extension officers who had to be able to deal with all sort of medical emergencies and were generally as good as a doctor. Here in far off Wales where I now live, if I ring for an appointment to see a doctor they ask which one. After the PNG years of my life, I always say anyone will do and give thanks. Similarly with dentists. I can recall lowly aid post orderlies living a long distance from any town who gave their services 24 hours a day if necessary. I also think of the many nurses who did lifesaving work which elsewhere in the world would be done by doctors. And, sadly, these nurses were working with few facilities nor even the right drugs or equipment. God bless them all who, even as I type, are facing unimaginably traumatised patients, perhaps by torchlight.

I was once asked to cash a government cheque for Vevien. It was his overtime payment for a month of ferrying seriously ill patients from Taskul to Kavieng in an open dinghy. Often this would be done in the dead of night with a monsoon blowing its torrential rain. A wantok would hold a waterproof torch  that Vevien had bought himself and stocked with batteries he also bought with his own money. Holding a drip in the torchlight would be a young nurse or nursing aide. Sometimes they failed to reach the beach near Kavieng Hospital before the patient died. But, thankfully, often the person would recover thanks to the dedicated rural health team that had braved the elements. Vevien’s overtime cheque was for a meagre 75 toea. I never banked it to reclaim the money but kept it as a memorial to a good man who served his country for a pittance while the spivs were busy ripping off  the nation and lining their pockets and when venerable MPs even PMs were lauded for what they did during their time in parliament.

 If you have ears and eyes, listen and see

http://www.solomonstarnews.com/viewpoint/editorial/10950-if-you-have-ears-and-eyes-listen-and-see

Published: 10 July 2016

The police commissioner Frank Prendergast on Friday last week revealed that 10 people have been arrested as a result of the first usage of breathalyzers. The first ten are going to face tough consequences under the newly passed laws. When parliament was about to pass this new traffic laws, the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force has embarked on a widespread public awareness regarding the use of breathalyzers and possible punishments. The police force explained the processes, how police willWhen police prepared to put to use the instrument, they even announced it and warned drivers to avoid drink-driving. Yet the first implementation exercise managed to net 10.
Congratulations RSIP for the first successful usage of breathalyzers. We do not know what else can be introduced to get people to stop drink-driving, but maximum punishment must be imposed on those caught by breathalyzers. The penalties for a driver being at or above the prescribed level or for failing or refusing a breath test are severe and include the following;
• For a first offence of being at or above the prescribed level of 0.05% BAC, $10,000 or 12 months imprisonment or both, and disqualification of driver’s licence,
• For a second offence of being at or above the prescribed level of 0.05% BAC, $20,000 or 2 years imprisonment or both, and disqualification of driver’s licence,
• For refusing or failing a breath test, $10,000 or 12 months imprisonment or both, and disqualification of driver’s licence.

Does PNG want 19% of a mine or 36.4% of a conflict?

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/07/momis-does-png-want-19-of-panguna-or-364-of-a-conflict.html.  03 July 2016

President John Momis | Edited extracts

THE Rio Tinto decision to divest its shares in Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) is a remarkably unprincipled, shameful and evil decision. Yet this is a decision by an international mining giant, a company that holds itself out internationally as bound by quite different standards. The shame and evil does of Rio Tinto’s decision does not lie in the withdrawal from BCL. Rather, it relates to two key aspects of the way in which Rio has withdrawn from BCL.

First, Rio has directed that of its 53.8% equity, 36.4% should be offered to the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and 17.4% to the PNG Government. So the ABG and the national government will be equal minority shareholders in BCL, each with 36.4%. The remaining 27% will still be held by small shareholders all over the world. The evil involved here is that it constitutes completely unwarranted Rio Tinto interference in Bougainville’s affairs, and in the complex relationships between the PNG government and Bougainville. All issues about the Panguna mine are deeply sensitive for Bougainvilleans. The mine was imposed on Bougainville for the benefit of PNG as a whole. But it was Panguna landowners, as well as other Bougainvilleans, who bore the cost, and received very little in the way of benefits. It was resentment about the unfairness of the mine that led to the terrible loss of life and destruction of the Bougainville conflict. Because of that background, Bougainvilleans are determined that they must control all future decision-making about not only Panguna but also all other mining in Bougainville. That is why, from the time that the ABG was established in 2005, it has insisted that all powers over mining must be transferred to Bougainville control. So we cannot accept the unilateral Rio Tinto decision to make the ABG and the national government equal shareholders in BCL.

In two long meetings with senior Rio officials, in July 2015 and February 2016, I made it clear to them that national government control of Panguna is unacceptable. I insisted that if Rio Tinto was to divest its majority shareholding in BCL, it must transfer the shares to the ABG at no cost.

But in their arrogance and ignorance, Rio decided that it knew better. It made its decision without discussing with us what it unilaterally decided to do.  Joint control of Panguna with the PNG government can never be accepted by Bougainville. Already, I am hearing from Bougainville of deep anger amongst my people about the BCL decision.

The second shameful and evil aspect of the Rio decision is its determination to walk away from the Panguna mine without in any way recognising the company’s contribution to the terrible environmental and social impacts of the mine. …

What I propose is fully consistent with the Bougainville Peace Agreement. Under the Agreement, the two governments have committed themselves to resolving our differences and working together cooperatively.

We seek the understanding of the National Government, and of Papua New Guineans generally, of the burning desire of Bougainvilleans to control this, the most sensitive of areas of economic activity in Bougainville.

 

No genuine government motivation to curb corruption, says survey

2 July 2016  http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/07/no-genuine-government-motivation-to-curb-corruption-says-survey.html#more

TRANSPARENCY International PNG (TIPNG) has released its latest publication on levels and consequences of corruption in Papua New Guinea and the response to this of state and society. In presenting the findings of 53-page public opinion survey, TIPNG membership coordinator Yuambari Haihuie explained the report gathered data from 1,250 participants in the National Capital District and Central, East New Britain, Eastern Highlands and Morobe provinces. “Ninety-nine percent of participants think corruption is a serious problem in PNG and 90% think it is getting worse,” said Mr Haihuie. He went on to say that 81% of respondents thought that members of parliament are the cause of corruption while 25% believed everyone was to blame for the spread of corruption. Mr Haihuie said 53% of participants had paid bribes to get a service or better service in education (22%), police (18%), health (18%), courts (7%), land (7%) and 4% for traffic inspectors. Another 77% believe that the government’s effort to combat corruption was all or mainly for political gain with no genuine motivation. “The key finding from the report is that Papua New Guineans are aware of the very damaging costs and consequences of corruption,” Mr Haihuie said. “They are often paying that cost directly in terms of often unavoidable payments and degraded services.”

 

PNG’s 2015 agriculture exports less than half 2011 levels

David James | Business Advantage PNG | Edited extracts

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/07/pngs-2015-agriculture-exports-less-than-half-2011-levels.html#more

PAPUA New Guinea’s agriculture export income in 2015 was less than half of 2011 levels, according to recent Bank of Papua New Guinea data. Income from palm oil exports was at its lowest level since 2009, while coffee exports were less than half the value of four years ago and income from rubber exports almost halved in a year. Some of the decline is attributable to lower export prices. The bank’s most recent Quarterly Economic Bulletin says in 2015 coffee prices were down from 2014 levels by 1.2%, palm oil prices fell by 18.5%, tea by 5.8% and rubber by 16.7%. Cocoa prices rose by 14.4% and copra by 1.3%.

The lower income was also the result of significantly lower production levels. The Bulletin noted that coffee export volumes declined by 11.6%, attributed to lower yield from ageing coffee trees combined with the adverse impact of the El Niño drought. Cocoa volumes also declined by 8%. Higher coffee production from Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia put downward pressure on global prices with income being only 42% of the 2011 level. Coffee accounted for 29% of PNG’s agricultural export income last year. The combined effect of the decline in prices and volumes resulted in a 22.9% decline of palm oil export sales. Palm oil constituted 61% of agricultural export income last year. Rubber performed poorly. Volumes in 2015 declined by 31.3% from 2014. The Bulletin attributed this to the adverse impact of El Niño. Prices also fell significantly.

 

Rachael’s bid to save lives

The National, Tuesday July 26th, 2016

RACHAEL Tom grew up witnessing people carry the sick from their village to Nipa station to be treated.
Tom is from Poiye village in the Nipa-Kutubu district of Southern Highlands and is the sixth child in a family of eight. Her village has two aid posts but one was closed due to landowner issues.  The aid post has one community health worker but most times they lacked medicine so they would have to travel to the station. The walk from Poiye village to Nipa station takes about two hours and in emergency cases it’s always a matter of life and death. Sometimes they would seek assistance from the Gutnius Christian Church for transport. These experiences etched in Tom’s mind and inspired  her to become a health worker, even before she started school.“I grew up witnessing my people carry the sick from my village to Nipa station to receive health service. “This inspired me to become a health worker and serve my community,” she said.
Tom’s ambition will soon be a reality as she is now studying diploma in general nursing at the Asia Pacific Institute of Applied Social, Economic and Technical in Port Moresby after completing her Grade 12 at Tari Secondary, in Hela.
She has also encouraged her cousins and her younger sister to take up biology and chemistry so they could pursue the field of medicine to become doctors or nurses.
Tom is currently on a three-month internship with Kaugere Clinic in the Moresby South electorate.
She is expected to get some hands-on experience on what she was taught in the classroom.

 

Team rescues mother, child

The National, Monday July 18th, 2016

IN the remote Karamui sub-district of Chimbu, life for a 15-year-old orphaned girl and her seven-month-old pre-mature baby has been an uphill battle. The baby boy, Kuman Bewa, was not able to feed off the mother, Noni Bewa, whose complications were compounded by a lack of motherhood knowledge.
A Medical Outreach Team from the Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Kundiawa General Hospital led by director Dr John Tonar visited the Negabo health centre. They found the struggling mother and son.
“We uncovered that their lives were under serious threat because basic services like health, education and others were not available in this remote part of Chimbu,” Tonar said.  “The mother was confused because she was too young to know motherhood, we squeezed her milk into the baby’s mouth and it started to feed.”  The teenager was the firstborn in a family of four, two girls and two boys. Their parents died of a sickness she has no knowledge of.  As the eldest, Bewa took responsibilities to care for her three siblings.
“I was like the father and mother for my younger siblings,” she said. Unfortunately, she encountered an experience with a man she refuses to reveal in fear of her life. She became pregnant which resulted in the birth of Kuman Bewa. After  medical screening of mother and baby, Tonar recommended that they be airlifted to the Sir Joseph Nombri Kundiawa General Hospital for treatment and care. When the team returned last week, Kuman Kewa had passed away. “Since the baby has passed away, the mother will eventually regain strength – we cannot do anything. This is not an isolated case in remote areas like Negabo. “I am sure there are many similar cases like this in many remote areas,” Tonar said.

 

Momis slams miner’s refusal

Post Courier, July 01, 2016

BOUGAINVILLE President John Momis has expressed deep anger at Rio Tinto’s refusal to accept responsibility for the environmental and other damages caused by the Panguna Copper mine in Central Bougainville. This comes as Rio Tinto announced it is divesting its shares in Bougainville Copper Limited, former operator of the mine. Mr Momis met with two Rio Tinto officials in Port Moresby on Wednesday in what has been described by an insider as a “very tense meeting”. Mr Momis said yesterday that in previous meetings he had insisted that Rio Tinto accept responsibility for mining legacy issues.

“When I met their officials last night (Wednesday) in Port Moresby, they flatly rejected any responsibility for their contribution to the damage done by the Panguna Mine,” he said. “Rio’s officials gave me two reasons for not accepting responsibility for mine impacts. First, Rio operated under the PNG law of the day. Second, they were forced out of Panguna by the conflict. “But the truth is Rio Tinto generated huge revenues from what we all now know were the terrible injustice of its Bougainville mining operations.”

 

Post-War Truth and Justice Still Elusive in Bougainville

http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/post-war-truth-and-justice-still-elusive-in-bougainville/

Almost every family in the islands of Bougainville, has a story to tell of death and suffering during the decade long civil war (1989-1998), known as ‘the Crisis.’ Yet fifteen years after the 2001 peace agreement, there is no accurate information about the scale of atrocities which occurred to inform ongoing peace and reconciliation efforts being supported by the government and international donors. Now members of civil society and grassroots communities are concerned that lack of truth telling and transitional justice is hindering durable reconciliation. “I believe there should be a truth telling program here and I think the timing is right,” Helen Hakena, Director of the Leitana Nehan Women’s Development Agency, a local non-government organisation, told IPS.

“It is nearly twenty years [since the conflict] and some people have moved on with their lives, while there are others who have just cut off all sense of belonging because they are still hurting.” Bernard Unabali, Catholic Bishop of Bougainville, concurs. “Truth is absolutely necessary, there is no doubt it is an absolutely necessary thing for peace and justice,” he declared.

“There is a lot to be done on truth telling. When we talk about the Crisis-related problems our ideas are all mangled together and we are just talking on the surface, not really uprooting what is beneath, what really happened,” said Barbara Tanne, Executive Officer of the Bougainville Women’s Federation in the capital, Buka.

Judicial and non-judicial forms of truth and justice are widely perceived by experts as essential for post-war reconciliation. The wisdom is that if a violent past is left unaddressed, trauma, social divisions and mistrust will remain and fester into further forms of conflict. Failure to address wartime abuses in Bougainville is considered a factor in resurgent payback and sorcery-related violence, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reports. A study of 1,743 people in Bougainville published last year by the UNDP revealed that one in five men had engaged in sorcery-related violence, while one in two men and one in four women had been witnesses.

“A truth commission must be established so people can tell the truth before they make their choice for the political future of Bougainville. Because when we decide our choice, problems associated with the conflict must be addressed,” Alex Amon Jr, President of the Suir Youth Federation, North Bougainville, declared.

Hakena believes there are repercussions if transitional justice doesn’t occur.

“It is happening now. Elderly people are passing on their negative experiences to their sons, who have not experienced that, and who will continue to hate the perpetrator’s family. Years later some of these kids will not know why they hate those people and there will be repercussions,” she elaborated.

The government is planning a review of its peace and security framework this year during which there will be an opportunity to explore people’s views on transitional justice, Elizah said.

The benefits of establishing a truth commission include a state-endorsed public platform for everyone to have their stories heard, give testimony of human rights abuses for possible further investigation and for recommendations to be made on legal and institutional reforms.

At the grassroots, people also point to the immense potential of implementing more widely customary processes of truth telling that have been used for generations.

“We do have traditional ceremonies where everybody comes together, the perpetrators and the victims and all others who are affected and they will thrash and throw out everything. That is very much like a truth commission, where, in the end, they say this is what we did,” Rosemary Moses at the Bougainville Women’s Federation in Arawa said.

Unabali agreed that durable peace should be built first on traditional truth telling mechanisms, which had widespread legitimacy in the minds of individuals and communities, even if a truth commission was also considered.

 

Environmental group fight to conserve land

Post Courier, July 12, 2016

ILLEGAL logging has sprung up over all over the country and many of the operations have gone unnoticed. Fast money overrides all even if there are laws to conserve the environment for future generations. Ignorant landowners have taken sides with illegal loggers and have multitudes of excuses to give when confronted by lobby groups and authorities. In a recent sit-in meeting over the encroachment on the wide life management area over illegal logging in the hinterlands of Kairuku and Goilala in Central Province, Post-Courier witnessed a meeting with parties; including the logging company, officers from Environment and Conservation and National Forestry office, a lobby group and landowners.

The meeting ensued after constant illegal operations over the past years despite the area- Inaina wildlife management area declared a protected site by the Environment and Conservation Authority.

Wildlife Management Areas are established on customarily owned land on the request of the landowners for the conservation and controlled utilisation of the wildlife and its habitat.

“What is environment,” one irate landowner told an environmental lobby group to get out. He was referring to the protected site when he said there were no benefits if the protected site was to go ahead.

“I get money from logging for school fees and for my bread and butter.

“What government services do you have for me here,” he asked.

 

 Homebrew lead cause of disorder: Leader

The National, Tuesday July 12th, 2016

Homebrew is the main contributing factor to social disorder in rural communities, a prominent woman leader from the Highlands region says.  She told The National that villagers were getting drunk every day because homebrew was cheap and “available in every corner and that is very dangerous.”  That led to immense law and order problems, she said. Women in Politics regional president Dere Cecillia from Kerowagi in Chimbu, said mothers and young girls were no longer feeling safe in the area  or even in their own communities.  She said they were being harassed and intimidated by young people under the influence of homebrew every day. “I do not know when we womenfolk will settle down well in our community without fear and be able to move around at any time of the day or night,” she said.
Cecillia said many villages in her district and other parts of the province that she visited suffered from similar problems.
She said community leaders, with the support from police, tried their best over the years to stop the cultivation of marijuana and production of homebrew but people had stopped only for a while.
She said some leaders were afraid to report the matter to police for fear of retaliation.
Cecillia said they should not allow the drunken and marijuana addicts to control their lives.

 

Archbishop urge politicians to unite for the nation

Post Courier, July 14, 2016

ALL leaders of the National Parliament need to remain united for the good of the nation and its people, says Catholic Archbishop of Port Moresby Sir John Ribat. In light of the current political situation in the country, Sir John said leaders involved should set aside their differences and work together for the betterment of the country. “On behalf of the churches in the country, I call on our leaders to put our nation first and all the issues happening should be set aside and think of ways, how, they want PNG to be like from now on and in the future.” The archbishop said leaders should work together despite their differences for the good of the people. “There are many people suffering in parts of the country and such situations do not create something important but delay in service delivery. “With all these court cases and recent situations in the political arena, let the judiciary make its decision and let’s hope it will be the best decision for the nation and its people. “All leaders should focus to see how they want PNG to be like through their leadership and see what is best for the country. “Let us hope and see what will be the best that will come out of such political situations that the country is facing,” he said. He is also encouraging other churches in the country to continue to pray for our wonderful country and the leaders of parliament as they continue to represent the people in their various provinces and districts to serve the people in the several services they deliver.

 

GOOD News for People Living With Disabilities in the Hela province

Post Courier, July 13, 2016

After living in the dark and struggling with their discomforts for many years without any devices to aide them, a truck load of very needy aiding devices are now on the way to Tari for distributions to People Living With Disabilities (PLWD) in the Hela Province. Mr Don Waipe, officer in charge (OIC) of Deafness and Hearing Services with the Mt Sion Center for the Blind in Goroka today transported the devices to Tari. Mr Waipe said over 27 000 devices were purchased for distribution throughout the country by Strongim Pipol Strongim Nation (SPSN) under AusAID after being approached in 2014 by the National Board for Disabled Persons (NBDP). He said Hela missed out on the first delivery of these devices as the devices were delivered to Mendi and never reached Tari. Mr Waipe said the second lot of supplies for Hela arrived in Lae wharf early last year and he made it his business to travel from Goroka to Lae to pick them up and stored them at his office in Goroka. Mr Waipe said due to lack of funds for vehicle hire, fuel and other logistical support, the 250 plus devices bound for Hela remained idle at his office for nearly a year until Hela provincial administrator William Bando intervened.

Mr Waipe said the devices include elbow crutches, crutches, walking sticks, eye glasses and hearing aids.

He said 22 wheel chairs are also at Tari hospital now after being transported by Tari hospital CEO Dr Hamiya Hewali.

 

Over 600 in Manus get refugee status

The National, Tuesday July 19th, 2016

MORE than 600 asylum seekers in Manus have been processed and given refugee status.  That was made known in the Supreme Court yesterday by lawyer Laias Kandi. Kandi, representing Immigration and Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato and Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura, also informed the court that 203 asylum seekers were yet to be determined.  He said out of the 203 asylum seekers, 129 had been assessed and were awaiting the minister’s decision while 74 were still undergoing a merit review process. The court has given the respondents 14 weeks to process the remaining 203 asylum seekers, including 30 who are in Australia for medical treatment. The respondents were told to provide a report to the court. Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia told lawyer Ben Lomai, who is representing the asylum seekers and the refugees, to produce five cases from the 636 refugees granted refugee status to be tried as test cases on Monday.  Sir Salamo instructed parties to inform the court on Monday on jurisdiction issues regarding the resettlement of the confirmed refugees.
According to the  information given to the court yesterday, 636 from a total of 1010 asylum seekers in Manus were given refugee status, 128 identified as non-refugees, 43 were in Australia for medical treatment of which 13 were refugees.

Court strikes out rape case involving handicapped girl

The National, Tuesday July 19th, 2016

THE Bomana Committal Court struck out a rape case on Friday because police failed to provide files on time. The case of Mathew Tusala, who allegedly raped a girl with disabilities at 9-Mile in Port Moresby, started on March 9. Magistrate Cosmas Bidar said police had failed to serve files on the defendant although more than three months had elapsed. Bidar said offences against disabled people  in the form of sexual harassment had become prevalent. He said it was also the constitutional right of the defendant to have his case dealt with in a reasonable time.

 

Family support is truly priceless

The National, Wednesday July 20th, 2016

Ever wonder why people from villages in and around Central province camp outside the Port Moresby General Hospital?  Under brightly coloured tents, they faithfully and tirelessly bear the cold and heat.
I ponder about it every time I passed by them but just didn’t have the time to sit and  ask questions.
I didn’t think it would be difficult to get answers until I enquired. “We are going through a situation right now, please, no stories,” was one of the first response I got.
I was still curious so I walked up and asked a woman but she too refused to share her story with me.
Finally, I came across an elderly man who was sitting outside his blue tent, casually chewing betel nuts.
I met Tau Dairi Hehuni last month. He is from Gaire village just outside Port Moresby. He said he was living outside the hospital for more than a month. He did not mind the noise and every other annoying things. He was sacrificing the comforts of home to wait for his son Belesa Dairi to recover.
“I’ve been living here for a month. I’m taking care of my child who has liver problems. I’ve asked my friends and relatives to come so we can donate 10 bags of blood to my son for an operation at the Pacific International Hospital),” Tau explained to me. The first and perhaps the most important reason why Tau is here is because of his family. For Tau to be there for his son was a sign of hope and faith that Belesa would recover and although his illness was grave, there was still light at the end of the tunnel.
Tau worried about his son but he was blessed with the company of his family, relatives and friends who had visited him. Not only that, but it’s  part of the custom of the Central people. “When I’m in trouble or one of my family members is sick, my wantoks and fellow tribesmen or family members visit me at the hospital and buy food and I would do the same for them. This happens every day,” Tau said.
“If my wantoks or family members don’t visit me now and when they fall sick, I will not visit them.
“That’s life in Central province. It’s a norm in Central.” A month later I called Tau and found out that Belesa had passed away.

Peter O’Neill lied to me about Rio’s decision to quit BCL

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/07/peter-oneill-lied-to-me-about-rios-decision-to-quit-bcl.html#more 22 July 2016

WHEN I met prime minister Peter O’Neill on Saturday 2 July, I was not aware that the national government had already accepted the transfer of 17.4% equity from Rio Tinto.

I was initially reassured that he understood the serious dangers involved in the national government accepting the equity. I believed he understood our concerns and was ready to consider the shares coming to Bougainville. But later that day, I received the information that the national government had already accepted transfer of the shares. I immediately wrote to the prime minister, demanding that the shares be transferred to Bougainville. I became much more concerned by the statement of the former minister responsible, Ben Micah, reported in the Post Courier of 12 July. He alleged that the negotiations with Rio Tinto about equity transfer had been under the direction of the prime minister. Micah said that he had “been in discussions with Rio together with the prime minister and we have kept Mr. Momis abreast of our discussions”. If there was cooperation between the prime minister and Mr Micah, that would be very worrying. But more importantly, it is completely untrue that the prime minister and Mr Micah have kept me advised of their discussions. To say so is a complete lie…..

 

How our country is run: A government that lies to the people – Sir Julius Chan

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/07/how-our-country-is-run-a-government-that-lies-to-the-people.html#more  21 July 2016

MY POSITION on the current political situation is very simple, and very firm. I stand for the good of the nation. I stand for the good of my province. And above all; I stand for the good of the people.

I support good government. I support the opposition. I support the people. I ask all other members of parliament to do the same. For the last few years, I have seen governments mad for power, spending their money buying support but forgetting the needs of the people. The Constitution says, “All power belongs to the people.” It says “our national wealth, won by honest, hard work, shall be shared equitably by all.”

We must never betray the Constitution or crave for power. Whether the government or the opposition wins this filthy battle, we must see change. The words of our leaders cannot be trusted. In 2009, Vision 2050 was launched with great promises – “By 2050 PNG will be in the top 50 countries of the world in the UN Human Development Index.”

But just seven years later PNG has dropped from 145th in the world to 158th, from the medium human development category to the low human development category. We are on the same level with basket cases like Rwanda and Burkina Faso. The national government never keeps its promises. Just look at New Ireland. In the 1995 Lihir memorandum of agreement, the government promised a Kavieng international airport, a Kavieng international wharf and a fully sealed Boluminski Highway. They promised Namatanai Power, Namatanai Water, Kavieng Power, Kavieng Water and 18 other projects. In 20 years not one was delivered. Not one! The entire nation was promised tuition fee free education, but the money is always too little, too late. Education in PNG is in chaos. We were promised free primary and subsidised secondary health care. Where is it? Government cannot even pay the DSIP and PSIP on time. Districts and provinces have no funds for services and infrastructure. Meanwhile our resources continue to be stolen, enriching foreign companies, filling the pockets of politicians, but bleeding the people.

Our royalties are among the lowest in the world. Billions of kina flow out, but only liklik toea comes back to the province, to the people. And look at our forests. A 2013 commission of inquiry on special agriculture and business leases (SABLs) reported fraudulent contracts to companies who clear-felled our forests, undercounted and underpriced the logs to avoid tax, and never developed a single agricultural project.

The commission of inquiry recommended most SABLs be revoked. Cabinet agreed in 2014. The prime minister then said the revocations would be done. What has happened since? Nothing! This is how our country is run. The national government simply lies to the people and spends their money. The bureaucracy sucks up money but has no idea what is happening on the ground. Meanwhile in the provinces we try our best. In New Ireland we have spent hundreds of millions on services and infrastructure the State promised but failed to provide. Other provinces have done the same.

So you ask what is my position? My position is clear. I support honest government, not one for sale to the highest bidder. ….

 

It is time to heal and build a better Papua New Guinea

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/07/it-is-time-to-heal-and-build-a-better-papua-new-guinea.html#more 23 July 2016   Martin Namarong

YESTERDAY I was disappointed. Not because the opposition didn’t win the vote of no confidence, but because of the lack of a better alternative to the status quo.  I’ve noted how some have demonised the speaker of parliament for quelling debate but let’s be realistic – the opposition did not have the numbers on the floor. Many commentators may have their opinions on why the status quo wasn’t changed. To my mind, change did not occur because there was no better alternative. Change did not happen because the whole of Papua New Guinea wasn’t inspired by a better alternative, to move for change. The challenge presented to the opposition and critics of the current government is to articulate a better alternative that everyone (including the crooks) can believe in. The default attitude that some may take following the failure of the vote of no confidence may be to create further obstacles. Whilst this may generate headlines and cause disruptions, as we have seen from previous experience, such efforts have been futile. Indeed, ordinary Papua New Guineans have paid are high price without a single dent on the current regime.

Now is not the time to further polarise the country but to heal the wounds and build bridges. Now is the time for more moderate voices articulating a better alternative? One cannot bring about change using the same methods that have failed previously. Our people want change but it’s not just the change of personalities but a holistic change that improves their livelihoods and wellbeing. Such change does not just come from removing a prime minister but from redefining Papua New Guinea’s model of development. It’s about social, economic, political and cultural reforms that create an inclusive and just society. Critics of the current regime have been experts at highlighting its sins but have yet to convince the people of Papua New Guinea how they can lead the country into a brighter future.

Sure we have overcrowding in classrooms but how do we address the issue without borrowing to build more infrastructure? Do we increase government spending by building more hospitals and buying more medicines or do we empower our people to prevent themselves from getting ill?

To replace some individuals with other individuals without redefining the underlying model of development is a band aid solution.  Wholesale changes to the philosophy of government, investments in human capital and institutional reforms are needed alongside changes to faces.

Yes we can talk about the abuses and terrible things our nation is going through but we must also give our people hope about the future. We must empower our people so that they themselves are capable of participating meaningfully in all aspects of national development so as to maintain national sovereignty and promote self-reliance. Our people don’t just need stories about how bad things are in PNG but also empowering stories about Papua New Guinean ways of achieving sustainable human development and creating a nation of which they can be proud.

 

Buk bilong Pikinini makes book donations to rural and remote schools to increase literacy across PNG

Post Courier, July 27, 2016

Buk bilong Pikinini (BbP) is currently producing a documentary to highlight the great need for books and literacy materials in rural and remote schools across Papua New Guinea.

The documentary will showcase Buk bilong Pikinini’s work to get books to the most remote part of PNG and will also feature the inspirational personal stories of Eric Morova (Kanabea) and Grace Mungkaje (Tarawai), who have collected books in Australia and have received assistance from BbP and donors to bring the books back to their respective villages. Buk bilong Pikinini, which usually establishes libraries and conducts Early Childhood Literacy classes has introduced a new program Buk bilong Komuni-, which seeks to assist schools to re-establish libraries with high quality book and literacy material donations. BbP receives the donation of books in Australia from publishing houses, schools and individuals and is able to make donations to schools across PNG upon request. The donation kits consists of; children’s picture books, readers, teachers reference books, young adult books, dictionaries, activity books and stationery.

Media enquiries Contact: Elizabeth Omeri, PR & Marketing Manager elizabeth@bukbilongpikinini.org Phone: 73771224

 

Concerns raised by the CBC-PNG/SI on Deep Sea Mining (DSM)– 19 July 2016

The bishops of the Central Committee of the Catholic Bishops conference of PNG/SI met in Port Moresby on 18-19 July 2016. In this two day meeting, they discussed, among other things, about the proposedDeep Sea Mining (DSM) called Solwara1 and Solwara2 close to the shores of Papua New Guinea.

Following are the concerns raised by the Central Committee on the DSM:

  1. Why was PNG chosen as the testing place for DSM and why not a developed country such as the US or UK, Canada or Australia? Seabed Mining is a 30 month project and is only an experiment on the technology. There have been many other experiments in the Pacific that have brought no benefit for PNG. It appears this one won’t either.
  2. Critics maintain that Deep Sea Mining will cause a direct physical destruction of unique ecosystems; noise generated by the intended 24 hour per day operation will have a negative effect on the dolphins, sharks, tuna, whales and leatherback turtles in the area. We don’t know whether or not this is true, but why allow a project that offers no perceptible benefit for PNG to go ahead in PNG waters?
  3. It is alleged that the Government of PNG borrowed money to buy shares in DSM. It is incurring a high financial cost expecting high returns. PNG does not need to add more debt burden to our already struggling economy.
  4. How will DSM benefit communities in the region. We see potential negative outcomes for the people and environment in the area of DSM but no positive ones given the scope and nature of the experimental project. In addition, the DSM project is already dividing communities which disagree concerning Solwara 1.
  5. There is no act of Parliament governing DSM in Papua New Guinea. Rich sponsoring countries are shifting the responsibility of care to small countries such as Papua New Guinea.
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Social Concerns Notes – June 2016

Papua New Guinea: students shot, country damaged

11 June 2016  http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2016/06/11/papua-new-guinea-students-shot-country-damaged/ Author: Bill Standish, Canberra

On Wednesday 8 June, Papua New Guinea police fired on a peaceful student demonstration at the University of PNG (UPNG); four students received bullet wounds, 20 were injured and hundreds tear-gassed. Thankfully there were no fatalities. PNG has again made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Even UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his concern, appealing for calm and respect for peaceful protest, freedom of assembly and a commitment to the rule of law.

How did this happen?

As I flagged in January, public concern at political corruption has escalated under the government of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. He has refused to be interviewed by the police over US$22 million payments to lawyer Paul Paraka, thus provoking a court-issued arrest warrant. And he is fighting an investigation over US$1.2 billion worth of loans borrowed without parliamentary approval. The state is in fiscal trouble. Foreign exchange reserves are short as income from liquefied natural gas has effectively been garnisheed to repay the loans. Budget cuts are severe. Health and education, for example, have been hit by cuts of around 35 per cent. UPNG students have been boycotting classes for five weeks due to concerns about government corruption and PNG’s precarious economic position as well as a desire to preserve democracy and the rule of law. They have petitioned O’Neill demanding he step down (or at least step aside) while the charges are dealt with according to the law. The prime minister, who dominates the parliament, has stated that there is no case against him. But, as former Chief Justice Sir Arnold Amet points out, that is for the courts to decide. The students and the prime minister appear to have angrily painted themselves into opposing corners. No third party mediator has emerged yet.

[See the url above for the full article]

 

Investigation must be transparent: UN
Post Courier, June 15, 2016

THE United Nations has urged the importance of transparent and thorough investigations into the events of last Wednesday in which police shot at protesters, mainly University of Papua New Guinea students, at the Waigani campus entrance. The UN said in a statement on Monday that it was deeply concerned about the unrest in PNG, and particularly the events of Wednesday when police opened fire at the protestors who were preparing to march to Parliament in Port Moresby, injuring a number of students, some of whom remain hospitalised. It said that it was aware that Police Commissioner Gari Baki had announced an inquiry into the incident. “It is important that the police inquiry examines the use of force by law enforcement officers, including the use of live ammunition, and takes in consideration relevant international human rights laws and standards as well as recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteurs who recently visited PNG. We stress the importance of these inquiries being conducted in an independent, transparent and thorough manner resulting in a just process,” the UN said.

 

Behind the shooting of Papua New Guinea student protesters

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/06/14/pngs-j14.html  By Peter Symonds 14 June 2016

Heavily-armed police in the Papua New Guinea capital of Port Moresby last Wednesday opened fire on hundreds of protesting university students with live ammunition, injuring nearly 40, several seriously. Initial reports of four dead proved incorrect. The police crackdown followed weeks of student protests, including widespread class boycotts, at the University of Papua New Guinea that were joined by students in other parts of the country….. [See url above for full article].

Frictions have developed between O’Neill and Canberra over a series of issues, including his decision to direct some Australian advisers to leave last December. Nevertheless, his government has retained Canberra’s backing throughout the current crisis. In response to last week’s shootings, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop called for “calm.” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull rang O’Neill to offer assistance, but was politely declined. It is not difficult to imagine a completely different scenario if O’Neill no longer enjoyed Canberra’s support. Not only would the corruption allegations be used to paint a picture of a dysfunctional government, but the shooting of unarmed student protesters would be seized upon to denounce O’Neill in the blackest of terms, paving the way for his removal.

The latest crisis in PNG is a harbinger of the worsening social and economic crisis and sharpening geo-political tensions wracking countries throughout the region, particularly the small, vulnerable island states of the South West Pacific. The police shootings are a warning of the draconian measures that will be used by the local ruling elites to suppress any resistance to their agenda

 

DWU students condemn 8th June shooting

Post Courier, June 28, 2016

Students at Divine Word University’s Madang campus have strongly condemned the alleged police shooting of unarmed students at the University of Papua New Guinea on the 8th earlier this month.

The DWU Student Representative Council met with the leaders of provincial associations on campus recently and all voiced concern about the shooting and strongly condemned the action.

The student body also raised funds on campus and had sent it to the UPNG students to assist those injured with their medical expenses last Friday. The SRC President Jackson Kane Mulupe and his vice president Issac Ramson said: “We condemn the alleged acts of the police against unarmed students.

“We want the law to deal with individual policeman allegedly responsible. Police are not there to serve the interest of individuals or politicians but for this country and therefore, we call on the Ombudsman Commission as the constitutional watchdog to fully investigate. The action of the law enforcement officers was disgraceful and disrespectful to us as students,” Mr Mulupe and Mr Ramson said.

Mamose students’ representative Jason Imbong said we see the act of police as deprivation of the democratic human rights and freedom of speech and movement of the people.

“We want an independent Commission of Inquiry to be carried out especially by individuals outside of the government system to find out who authorized the shooting,” he said. He adds, we recommend that police must be trained and resourced with proper crowd control ways and equipment such as water cannons and batons rather than tear gas and live ammunition.

Issac Sukua representing New Guinea Islands and Southern region students said that under the Human Rights Act 1998, human have rights to live, respect, have freedom of speech and the police must act in a harmonious way. “We feel that the students’ rights were deprived at that time. Thus, they had the intent to kill by using weapons, so we condemn these actions,” Mr Sukua said. He added that they feel that this act was not a mistake but was ordered by somebody and must be investigated. The SRC believe that under the Police Act of 1998 Section 23 Division 3, where there is reason to believe that a member of the force committed a disciplinary offence other than an offence that is or intended to be dealt with as a minor offence shall be dealt with as a serious offence.The DWU SRC therefore have condemned the acts of the police that they have and are urging if the higher authority cannot maintain the rule of law, then it becomes meaningless to everybody else in the lower levels of society. Meanwhile, the SRC and students have carried out fundraising on campus and sent the money collected to the UPNG students injured and hospitalized to assist them with their medical expenses. “To show our solidarity and care for our fellow students who were injured we have made some contributions and sent it to them to assist with their hospital expenses,” said Mr Mulupe.

 

PMGH needs blood donations every week

The National, Friday June 3rd, 2016

COORDINATOR of the Port Moresby General Hospital’s  ANZ Corporate Blood Drive (CBD) Anna Megueria says the hospital requires  at least 400 screened bags every week to assist those in need.
“At any time PMGH has a stock of blood at hand, however we need at least 800 to 1000 people to try to donate blood so that we can collect about 400 bags of blood every week. “Individual donors can donate blood every three to four months if they are in good health and are aged between 18 and 60 years old, weigh at least 45kg, and have not had symptoms of infection such as sore throat, cough, runny nose and diarrheoa for at least one week, and have not had a fever in the last three weeks. “Blood donors can come to donate blood either during corporate blood drives or to PMGH’s blood bank. The blood bank centre is open every day from 9am to 3pm except for public holidays. She said that a lot of Port Moresby businesses are happy to support this worthy cause and mostly got in touch with the CBD team to organise a blood drive for their staff. ‘Donate blood and save a life’ is the message from the Corporate Blood Drive supported by the Port Moresby General Hospital
Any organisation wishing to arrange a blood drive can contact Anna – anna@corporateblooddrive.com.

 

‘Outlawed and abused’: human rights abuses against sex workers in PNG

By Camilla Burkot on June 1, 2016  http://devpolicy.org/in-brief/outlawed-abused-human-rights-abuses-sex-workers-png-20160601/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=5018b75d99-Devpolicy_News__June_3_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-5018b75d99-227683090

A new report issued by Amnesty International last week paints a deeply troubling picture of the human rights abuses commonly endured by sex workers in Papua New Guinea, including at the hands of police.

Based on interviews with nearly 30 sex workers in Port Moresby and Mount Hagen, as well as a selection of representatives from NGOs, health services, police and the Ombudsman’s and Public Solicitor’s offices, the report’s findings largely confirm and extend previous research conducted on the subject within PNG, as well as the global experience of sex workers in countries where sex work is criminalised and stigmatised. The evidence gathered of common police indifference to – and in some cases active perpetration of – crimes committed against sex workers in PNG is particularly disturbing.

Though sex work itself is not technically illegal, the report notes that a number of PNG’s laws – many of which are colonial-era legal transplants from Queensland’s criminal code, with provisions that have since been repealed in Australia – discriminate against and disadvantage sex workers. Because they focus on the act of selling rather than buying sex, laws against ‘living on the earnings of prostitution’ and ‘keeping or owning a brothel’, among others (p. 19-20), leave sex workers but not their clients legally culpable.

Interviewees (including representatives of the police’s Internal Affairs Unit) recounted numerous cases of unlawful detention (p. 27-8) and of police treating possession of condoms as evidence of sex work or of intent to spread HIV/AIDS (also a criminal offense in PNG) (p. 28-30). But most harrowing are the testimonies of direct abuses of sex workers by police officers, including rape and extortion (p. 30-3). Though in most cases sex workers are not charged with an offence, the criminal code enables corrupt police to use the implicit threat of arrest against them (p. 30). Despite the severity of the abuse, many sex workers express reluctance to file complaints against the police out of fear of further retribution.

 

Beon Jail running out of food rations

Post Courier, June 07, 2016

THE BEON Jail in Madang is currently facing an acute food shortage for its inmates. This was revealed today by a senior Correctional Services officer from Beon Jail who was supervising the stall set-up for this weekend‘s Madang Festival at Laiwaden oval. The CS officer who requested anonymity. said the food ration to feed the inmates is running so short and they are making desperate appeals to business houses in Madang town and the provincial government for possible assistance. He pointed out that the short fall in government funding is one of the major contributing factors that lead to food rations running out.

 

More specialist midwives needed
Post Courier, June 14, 2016

MORE than half of the 250,000 annual births are delivered under recognised supervision in facilities, a health conference has been told. The conference heard that only 102,000 births – around 40 per cent – are supervised in facilities. According to the Health Department standards, supervision of these numbers of birth requires at least 600 to 800 midwives. At the moment, there are about 500 practising midwives nationwide. Aid agency AusAID support for midwifery education has facilitated the training of the current 400 new midwives since 2012. However, due to the older age structure of the current midwifery workforce, this number barely has an impact on the total stock of midwives for the country. Almost as many midwives have retired, moved out of midwifery, died or have been retrenched.

The review showed that between 2010 and 2014, the school of medicine and health sciences at the University of PNG and Port Moresby General Hospital had trained 40 doctors in the post-graduate diploma of obstetrics and gynaecology, and 15 specialist obstetrician gynaecologists. Unfortunately, the program at the school to train doctors with specialist maternity care skills ended last year. In general nursing and community health workers training in obstetrics, the curriculum only provides for reasonable basic care training in maternal and new born care. It is estimated that about one-third of these general health staff end up providing midwife and obstetric care. The shortage of skilled health workers is most stark at the district level. Only 39 of 88 districts have access to a doctor. This translates to over five million people without a direct access to a doctor, according to the report.

 

Lodge owner bans alcohol

The National, Friday June 17th, 2016

THE owner of a lodge in Jiwaka has decided not to sell alcohol because alcohol-related problems have become a very serious threat to business houses and the community. Gibson Yuants who owns Molka Lodge in Minj cleared all his stocks of alcoholic beverages last week. Molka Lodge is a popular lodge in the province and the highlands region. Yuants says Molka provides accommodation and other facilities and entertainment services but alcohol has become a major concern. He says he used to make “heaps of money” from the sale of alcohol because the lodge was located just along the Highlands Highway.
“I’m sacrificing to stop the sale of alcohol because people are not behaving when under the influence of alcohol. “I have been dealing with drunkards all my life and this time I have decided to find a solution and that is to completely stop the sale of alcohol,” he said.  He says nowadays people under the influence of alcohol behaved in a very disorderly manner. “Molka Lodge will only provide accommodation, conferences center and other services but it won’t sell alcohol.”

 

Lack of funds affect St John Ambulance’s operations

The National, Friday June 17th, 2016

Some branches and divisions of St John Ambulance are now under different managements because of insufficient funds to manage all of them, acting CEO Mollen Molki says. Molki said due to financial problems, the branch in Wewak and some other centres had been handed over to the provincial governments. He said the St John Ambulance branch in Port Moresby looks after some parts of Gulf and Central. Molki said St John Ambulance was also located in Bougainville but was forced to shut down during the Bougainville crisis. He said negotiations with the Bougainville government were underway to have the branch there re-opened.  “We also had other services such as caring of the blind and the blood bank which were taken under the care of the Government because there were no funds available to keep them in operation.” Molki says that institutions such as the Gordon and Gerehu clinics used to be under St John Ambulance but were recently handed over to the Government due to the same reason.

Bougainville Women Turn Around Lives of ‘Lost Generation’

http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/bougainville-women-turn-around-lives-of-lost-generation/

HAKO, Buka Island, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea , Jun 13 2016 (IPS) – Finding a sense of identity and purpose, as well as employment are some of the challenges facing youths in post-conflict Bougainville, an autonomous region in eastern Papua New Guinea in the southwest Pacific Islands. They have been labelled the ‘lost generation’ due to their risk of being marginalised after missing out on education during the Bougainville civil war (1989-1998), known locally as the ‘Crisis’.

But in Hako constituency, where an estimated 30,000 people live in villages along the north coast of Buka Island, North Bougainville, a local women’s community services organisation refuses to see the younger generation as anything other than a source of optimism and hope. “They are our future leaders and our future generation, so we really value the youths,” Dorcas Gano, president of the Hako Women’s Collective (HWC) told IPS. “There were no schools, no teachers and no services here and we had no food to eat. I saw people killed with my own eyes and we didn’t sleep at night, we were frightened.” — Gregory Tagu, who was in fifth grade when the war broke out.

Youth comprise about 60 percent of Bougainville’s estimated population of 300,000, which has doubled since the 1990s. The women’s collective firmly believes that peace and prosperity in years to come depends on empowering young men and women in these rainforest-covered islands to cope with the challenges of today with a sense of direction. One challenge, according to Gregory Tagu, a youth from Kohea village, is the psychological transition to a world without war….

In Hako, women are particularly concerned for the 70 percent of early school leavers who are unemployed and in 2007 the collective conducted their first skills training program. More than 400 youths were instructed in 30 different trade and technical skills, creative visual and music art, accountancy, leadership, health, sport, law and justice and public speaking. Two-thirds of those who participated were successful in finding employment, Gano claims.

 

Women’s economic empowerment: the importance of small market stall vendors in urban Papua New Guinea

By Michelle Nayahamui Rooney on June 16, 2016

Women’s economic empowerment: the importance of small market stall vendors in urban Papua New Guinea

…Evidence already tells us that a significant number of people in urban areas rely on the informal sector, and that women dominate this form of economic engagement [1]. A similar pattern is shown in the findings of a small survey I conducted during my fieldwork in Port Moresby in 2013. Men dominated income earning activities in waged employment while women were the key players in the informal sector (Figure 1).

 

Figure 1: Types of income earning activity, by gender (%; n=82)

 

When the family falls short they turn to the informal income earner – usually the mother whose income is earned on a daily basis from her small market stall – to supplement income until the next payday. Because the income is earned daily, the family is able to buy food in smaller portions on a daily basis.

For many — perhaps most — women in urban areas, small market stalls are usually their most viable option for making a bit of money to support their families. These intimate spaces of economic and social empowerment have been long neglected, but deserve to be better understood.

 

O’Neill’s home province provides 70% of defence force recruits http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/06/oneills-home-province-provides-70-of-defence-force-recruits.html#more

PRIME minister Peter O’Neill and defence minister Fabian Pok have been accused of pursuing recruitment policies that skew the composition of the PNG Defence Force to personnel from their own highlands provinces. Deputy opposition leader Sam Basil says that since Mr O’Neill came to power 70% of defence recruits have come from his Ialibu-Pangia Electorate in the Southern Highlands while 30% have come from Jiwaka Province, home of Dr Pok. O’Neill became prime minister and Dr Pok’s appointment as defence minister. “Peter O’Neill is from Southern Province and Dr Pok is from Jiwaka Province and it is obvious that the recruitment of soldiers are based on those two provinces with Ialibu-Pangia dominating,” Mr Basil said. He stated that he had “reliable information leaked from the PNGDF to the opposition” adding that he had challenged Dr Pok in parliament to provide lists of soldiers recruited since 2013 “to prove that I am wrong”. Mr Basil also said he had PNGDF documents that instructed recruitment officers to overlook “minor issues such as marital status and false education certificates to allow for soldiers from Ialibu Pangia to be recruited”.

 

Refugee Day celebrated
Post Courier, June 22, 2016

WORLD Refugee Day is a time to remember the struggles that refugees go through and also to remember countries or states who have provided humanitarian support to refugees in their times of need.

With the theme “PNG Welcomes Refugees”, the event was coordinated by International Organisation for Migration and Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority. Speaking at the World Refugee Day commemoration were deputy chief migration officer of the Refugee Division Esther Gaegaming, Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis, the Catholic Bishops Conference general secretary Father Victor Roche and United Nations resident coordinator Roy Trivedy. Also attending were invited guests from the private and public sector, refugees from West Papua as well .

 

Millions owed to medical contractors
Post Courier, June 23, 2016

THE Government owes millions of kina in outstanding payments to suppliers and distributors of medical drugs. The payments are more than K50 million and owed for more than six months. That figure was given by contractors, suppliers and distributors of medicine in the country. The figure could go higher but the Health Department says it does not have exact figures. Health Minister Michael Malabag and Secretary Pascoe Kase are both aware of the outstanding payments and met on Monday to discuss the matter on outstanding payments. “I am aware of the outstanding payments and have expressed my concern to Finance and Treasury. “I have instructed the Health Secretary to do daily follow ups with the departments to ensure some payments are made,” Mr Malabag said. Mr Kase said: “We have talked with our suppliers and distributors of medicines and they appreciated the financial situation we are in so we are managing and we pay as we receive funds from treasury.

 

Liquor shops increase along sections of Highlands Highway

Post Courier, June 22,2016, 02:00 pm

POLICE in Chimbu province are concerned at the high number of liquor shops that have suddenly mushroomed along various sections of Highlands Highway in the province.  Provincial Police Commander Supt Albert Beli said liquor is being sold publicly like any other trade store commodities in the province and this has inflicted more social problems and lawlessness. Supt Beli said this when commending businessman Gibson Yuants, owner of the famous Molka Lodge at the Minj road junction in the neighboring Jiwaka province for banning the sale of liquor at the lodge last week. Supt Beli said ‘money is not everything’ and the manner in which Mr Yuants prioritised human life and well-being ahead of fast money making business in the sale of beer must be emulated by all aspiring businessman and women who opt for liquor trade. Supt Beli said Chimbu has serious law and order problems that stem from the consumption of alcohol, adding that unlike in the past where beer is sold at restricted places, today clubs, pubs and taverns have mushroomed all over the province from Miunde on the Jiwaka border to Magiro on the Eastern Highlands boarder.

 

Parts of country facing food shortage

The National, Thursday June 23rd, 2016

CERTAIN parts of the country are still facing food shortage months after the drought hit the country, according to Dr Mike Bourke of the Australian National University. He told The National yesterday that this was particularly true in parts of Western and Milne Bay. “The drought is well and truly over. All over Papua New Guinea, it’s been raining,” Bourke said. “This has been going on for almost a year now, and also down in Morehead. “Food is also short in Milne Bay, particularly in many small atolls and small islands, and also in the north coast towards Rabaraba.” He said the high-altitude areas badly hit last July by frost included Kandep and Upper Lagaip Valley in Enga, and across the provincial border into Hela.
“Food is still scarce. Food distribution is going on as we speak.” Bourke said international organisations such as the World Food Programme and CARE were involved in food distribution. “Even now in 2016, the impact of food shortage is still happening,” he said. “A limited number of areas, but we are talking about 250,000 to 300,000 people. “There are about 80,000 people in Milne Bay and there are maybe 40,000 people in Western. The numbers are reasonably large.” Dr Bourke said things would get better soon. “Our understanding is that by September, this will be all over. But that’s three months away and still a long time to be short of food,” he said.

Stitched mouth extremist granted freedom
Post Courier, June 28, 2016

The foreigner who shook Papua New Guinea two weeks ago when he stitched his mouth up to protest being deported has been granted freedom. Mohamed Dahan Ghagadali from Western Sahara in Morocco, Africa’s bizarre display of extremism made headlines when a picture of his stitched up mouth was circulated over several media platforms including social media. The African was released from Bomana Prison yesterday on the conditions that he has the stitches removed, refrain from going on hunger strikes again and report to the PNG Immigration office every Wednesday for evaluation. Ghagadali’s lawyer Mr Ben Lomai told the press that his client’s fingerprint’s and photo have been taken and that the immigration office is in the process of reassessing Ghagadali’s application for fulltime residency in PNG.

Ghagadali was found to have been an illegal immigrant in July 2015 and was as a result detained at Bomana prison for the past six months awaiting deportation. The foreigner has three children and is married to a Papua New Guinea woman to whom he lived with for five years prior to his incarceration.

 

Clinic records 1000 HIV cases

The National, Wednesday June 29th, 2016

Kundiawa General Hospital has recorded over 1000 confirmed cases of HIV/AIDS at the hospital’s special clinic. Director of the Prapra HIV testing clinic, a branch of the hospital, Dr John Tonar confirmed there were 1030 cases recorded. He said these were cases reported at the clinic but estimated that there could be an equal number of cases still out in the communities. “This unreported cases also have their partners, therefore I anticipate that there are some 3000 to 4000 people infected and are living in the communities,” Dr Tonar said. He said the confirmed cases recorded at the clinic were mainly from unprotected sex.Dr Tonar gave these statistics during a  school HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB) exposition at Gembogl station in upper Chimbu last week. He said knowledge was a powerful tool to avoid contracting HIV and TB. He praised Gembogl district disease control officer Willie Gene Michael and teachers from Goro, Denglagu, Gembogl, Womatne and Bongugl primary schools who staged the exposition.  The event involved students who took part in dramas, debates, marches, poems and essays on the reality of HIV/AIDS and TB. “I thank you teachers for being instrumental in disseminating health messages through various means, you are working very hard to educate our future generations on the dangers of HIV/AIDS and TB. Your effort will go a long way to save our future generations.”
Dr Tonar is also the leader of the rural outreach team of the Kundiawa hospital that goes out to districts and villages to provide health care for patients who could not travel to the hospital.

Brexit: What lessons are there for PNG and the Pacific?

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/06/brexit-what-lessons-are-there-for-png-and-the-pacific.html.  Economist | Edited extracts

EUROPE is in shock as Britain votes to pull out of the European Union in what is now termed the ‘Brexit’. Britain is important to the EU because it is its second largest economy, and the world’s fifth largest. Thus her exit is raising fears that a domino effect could follow with other countries leaving the union. Questions are now being asked if the EU will survive. There is evidence indicating that right wing ‘nationalists’ in other countries are now pushing for an exit from the EU. One could argue that this is rather premature given Britain and the EU have not yet seen the full extent of the Brexit outcome.

The EU is currently negotiating a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with all 14 island states in the south Pacific. The comprehensive agreement will cover trade in goods and services, development cooperation, food health and safety, agriculture, sustainable development and competition.

The Brexit looks as though the EU might put a temporary halt to this negotiation. Britain, for its part, is going to have to negotiate an exit strategy with the EU which seems likely to have effects in this part of the world including a renegotiation of the terms of the economic partnership agreement.

The interim agreement provided PNG with duty free access into the British and European markets; a renegotiation could potentially turn this around and affect PNG’s economy – especially its foreign reserves which are already under pressure. This would spell disaster for PNG given its current economic condition where problems in the foreign reserves have forced the government to pursue extraordinary borrowing measures. The decision by Britain to hold a referendum to decide its future in the EU has brought to the forefront the important question of whether the Pacific could emulate a similar economic union. There is merit for such a set-up to facilitate trade and labour mobility – and it is an issue that has recently gained recognition. There is also a need to establish a common security policy to address terrorism, illegal fishing, transnational crime, human smuggling and border protection. Most Pacific Island nations have just a tiny military to protect their borders or exclusive economic zones.

The Pacific islands nations could explore introducing a common currency. However, as we have seen with the Greek crisis, such an option is not presently viable in a region which is prone to global market shocks. Nevertheless, having a common currency could ease payments for trade in raw materials and reduce transaction costs to boost tourism.

 

Statement on the current political tension in Papua New Guinea

Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG/SI.  9 June 2016

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinean and Solomon Islands views with concern the recent escalation of the political struggle currently taking place in Papua New Guinea.

Political disputes must be handled in the appropriate forum: parliament, guided by the Constitution. However every person in Papua New Guinea is obliged to follow the rule of law and the Melanesian Way, practicing restraint in times of conflict, avoiding escalation and the resort to violence.

We therefore appeal to all parties to express their legitimate concerns, even anger, without recourse to violence. In particular we appeal to the disciplined forces to follow correct procedures and never to use armed violence against our own unarmed citizens.

It is time for cooler heads to prevail, and for all parties to come together, mediated by a neutral third party, to work together for a peaceful outcome that follows the civil and gospel principles of honesty, truth and justice.

We repeat our appeal for Parliament to genuinely address the growing curse of corruption in our country. There appears to be not only a lack of political will but even sometimes a deliberate avoidance of tackling the issue, which we believe lies behind much of the anger and unrest felt by students and the wider population.

Strengthen the Ombudsman Commission. Fast track the Independent Commission against Corruption. Depoliticize the public service and the disciplined forces.

The knife that cuts out corruption must cut cleanly and quickly.

Catholic Bishops Conference PNG/SI

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Social Concerns Notes – May 2016

More health workers and doctors needed

Post Courier, May 02, 2016

The dire need for doctors and health services in the rural parts Papua New Guinea where the majority live was highlighted in the annual Open Day of Divine Word University in Madang yesterday.

This message came out in the displays and information provided by the pioneer Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS students) plus their peers from other programs in the faculty of medicine and health sciences. The MBBS program was introduced in DWU this year with 29 pioneer students enrolled. The MBBS students were out in force at the Open Day advocating for the program and highlighted the poor health indicators that characterise PNG at this time. According to the 2012 Health Service Delivery Report compiled by the Health Department and World Health Organisation “PNG has low numbers of health professionals per head of population. The report highlights that there were “5.3 nurses/midwives and less than one doctor per 10,000 people,”

Dean of the faculty of medicine and health sciences, Dr Clement Malau said the public demand for doctors and other health care workers will only increase with the growth in population and PNG must plan and prepare to meet the demand.

 

Call for Widows Act

The National, Monday May 2nd, 2016

THE PNG Widows Association wants a Lukautim Widows Act passed by 2017 to give widows a voice. The association, through its awareness and findings in two regions, Highlands and Southern, provided evidence that there were more than half a million such women in the country. “They are facing discrimination in their everyday lives mainly caused by their own family members”, association president Maria Unde said. “Their numbers tend to increase when Papua New Guineans are dying in hundreds nearly every day.” Unde said urgent partnership was required to start drafting a widows national policy as requested by the Department of Community Development, Youth and Religion.

She pointed out that the piece of legislation would be the first in any country, therefore, needed urgent support from partners to address issues of discrimination. Unde suggested that the Government could use the legislation and offer it as a gift to the world by presenting it as an important discussion matter to its world partners who could provide support and consider it as a top issue apart from climate change during the 2018 Apec meeting. “We see infrastructure development taking place in all the districts in rural areas but we see nil support in human development,” she said.

“Widows are the poorest people living on this planet and are not considered useful anymore and are therefore secluded and excluded in all activities and become the planet’s invisible women,” Unde said.

 

Unit lacks resources: Report

The National, Monday May 2nd, 2016

FAMILY and sexual violence units have not been allocated resources in police budgets although there is an increasing demand for their services annually. Ashlee Betteridge, a research officer at the Development Policy Centre in Australia highlighted this in her report published last Tuesday.

She said a recent evaluation of family sexual violence (FSV) units in PNG had painted a grim picture of the operating environment in which they were not allocated resources in police budgets.

The report also indicated that the units were not recognised within official police structures, under-staffed and in some cases under-trained.

Betteridge added that the report had also shown how low the arrest rates were in cases seen by FSV units. “For example, in Lae, Morobe, in the first quarter of 2015, out of 49 cases only two arrests were made,” she said. “In Waigani, out of 411 cases in 2014, there were only seven arrests and no follow-up at all in 109 of those cases.”  She said the evaluation has argued that the low arrests made so far were linked to the fact that most officers involved were female and that they were not in a position to arrest people due to potential threats to their safety.

 

Many difficult challenges face a recovering Bougainville

02 May 2016

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/05/the-leadership-challenges-facing-a-recovering-bougainville.html.  PATRICK NISIRA | Edited extracts

MANY of the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s (ABG) leadership challenges are inherent in the general situation of Bougainville in 2016. In a real sense it is a post-conflict situation – in that Bougainville’s violent, destructive, and deeply divisive nine year civil war ended almost 19 years ago, in mid-1997. It’s hardly surprising that, in the aftermath of such a violent, bitter and divisive conflict, that many opposing factions and divisions exist in Bougainville, and that consequentially, there is still much mistrust. But there are also significant new developments.

While the mainstream former Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) and Bougainville Resistance Force (BRF) elements that supported the peace process now largely work well together, at the local level there remain many unresolved divisions where reconciliation is still required. Since about 2010 former combatant organisations have emerged as significant political voices in Bougainville. …

A complicating factor here is the various business and other economic interests of several key former combatant leaders. Some of them use their ex-combatant networks to advance such interests.

Of course, there are other sources of significant division and tension. They include several different Me’ekamui factions, none of which participated in the weapons disposal process under the Bougainville Peace Agreement and so remain in possession of numerous firearms.

Another source of tensions is a group led by former BRA leader, Sam Kauona, who has long had interest in establishing mining operations in association with dual Australian/Canadian citizen Lindsay Semple and who – whenever they fear their mining interests are not sufficiently guaranteed – attacks the ABG as being under the control of Bougainville Copper Ltd and its 53% majority shareholder, Rio Tinto….

The much slower than anticipated progress in transfer of powers has resulted in frustration, and contributed to widespread criticism of the ABG for lack of performance, and failure to meet expectations. …If the ABG is to achieve real autonomy, or to have independence available as a real option in the future, achieving fiscal self-reliance is essential. But the challenges of achieving that goal – so strongly emphasised by the Bougainville Constitution – are immense.

Full version of Mr Nisira’s speech –  Download ‘Challenges facing the Bougainville Government’ by Patrick Nisira

Patrick Nisira is vice-president of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

 

Forced marriage a form of human trafficking

The National, Tuesday May 3rd, 2016

FORCED marriage, as it happens quite frequently in PNG, is a form of human trafficking and those responsible can face criminal charges, the International Organisation for Migration says.  The organisation’s chief of mission George Gigauri said: “If a girl is forced into marriage or some one is locked up and forced to work, all that qualify as human trafficking.  “Labour and sexual exploitation is a form of trafficking human beings.”

Gigauri said they were involved with government border agencies to deal with Burmese and Thailand fishermen along the PNG-Indonesian-Australian border last year. “These fishermen came into PNG through the dogleg area in Western Province from the Indonesian side, while  fishing and most the people were victims of trafficking,” he said.

“They were forced to work by the owner of the company and we went in with the PNGDF (Defence Force) and police, got them out and returned them to Burma and Cambodia.

“Our mission there (Burma and Cambodia) helped to integrate them in their families. This is a form of labour exploitation.”

Government budget cut affects church health services

Post Courier, May 04, 2016

Due to the reduction in health funds by the Government the Daru Kiunga Diocese Catholic Health services has minimised their service delivery to the rural areas according to their service budget.

According to Sister Anna Sanginawa, the diocesan health manager in Western Province, the Christian Health Services (CHS) funded the diocese health service K10,000 to carry out its health services in the Church health facilities in North Fly district. The Catholic diocese in Kiunga had to carry out its services delivery within the K10,000 from CHS but Sr Anna said that they are struggling to provide health services to the rural areas in the North Fly district. “We are planning to carry out our pastoral plan in health services however due to shortage of funds we cannot carry out our integrated patrols which will involve doctor services to the rural people, carrying out MCH and MCV testing including HIV and other health outreach programs.” The Christian Health Services draws its membership from 23 different denominations and its services cover 47 per cent of health facilities in the urban and sub-urban areas. Thus, 80 per cent of the rural health services are provided by the churches in which they have reached the most remote areas providing health services and medical care.

 

Online exploitation concern

The National, Thursday May 5th, 2016

AN advocate against child exploitation says digital technology and internet penetration in Papua New Guinea is growing rapidly and children are being easily exposed to harmful contents online.

“There’s been a rapid growth in digital technology which provides incredible opportunities for young children to socialise and network but there are also some risks in children being exposed to harmful contents,” Afrooz Kaviani Johnson said. She said these developments offered a potential for huge benefits and opportunities in the education and development of children.  But the internet and digital technologies can greatly expand girls’ and boys’ opportunities to access information and education, chat and socialise with friends through social networks, and access entertainment. Johnson said at the same time, there was a risk that through their use of the internet and digital technologies, children may be exposed to different forms of risks and new forms of harm – whether it is through the internet, mobile phones, digital TV, or platforms for games and videos. Johnson said children exposed to internet were exposed to a number of risks and potential perpetrators of sexual abuse online.

These include online grooming, live streaming of a child sexual abuse in real time, sexting (texting with sexual content), sex extortion (sextortion), child sexual abuse material or child pornography and many more others.

 

Constitution under siege. Judiciary to exercise inherent powers to administer the law.

http://www.transparencypng.org.pg/newsroom/view/constitution-under-siege.-judiciary-to-exercise-inherent-powers-to-administDate Posted: 03.05.2016

Members of the Community Coalition Against Corruption (CCAC) met last Friday (29/04/16) concerned that Papua New Guinea is facing a constitutional crisis orchestrated by individuals who seem to think the public offices they hold entitles them to undermine the basic principles of PNG’s democracy. The CCAC, co-chaired by Transparency International PNG and the Media Council, called the meeting in the light of more attempts to prevent investigations of alleged misuse of public office.

The CCAC does not accept the closure of the National Fraud & Anti Corruption Directorate by the Police Commissioner. It cannot be seen as coincidental that, immediately following court decisions regarding the work of senior police officers, action was taken to close down the office and place it under siege by police officers who do not appear to understand the implications of their actions.

The CCAC reminds members of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary at all levels that efforts to obstruct the legal process can result in the Judiciary executing its inherent powers to administer the law and ensure that justice is served for the best interest of the nation. …

Finally, the CCAC appeals to elected leaders to demonstrate moral and ethical leadership and responsibility. It is not acceptable that any public office holder, whether Constitutional Officer holder or holding other executive office of responsibility, should be permitted to use that office to undermine democracy and justice. Yet sackings, defiance of court orders, cynical refusal to face questions concerning illegal payments and many more serious attacks on our institutions appear to be occurring.

Papua New Guinea is being dragged into a constitutional crisis which creates division within society and even within the institutions established to protect the people and their constitution. The CCAC has confidence that public officials can see the danger and their obligations.

Authorized By: Lawrence Stephens & Alexander Rheeny  – CCAC Co-Chairs

 

New Zealand reveals the emperor’s new clothes

May 5 2016 Canberra Times  6.5.2016 http://www.canberratimes.com.au/

The recent decision of the Supreme Court of PNG, and new legal action now being brought by detainees on Manus Island, suggests that Australia’s asylum seeker policy is unravelling under the weight of its own contradictions. Particularly revealing of its underlying logic was the announcement by the federal government last week to again refuse New Zealand’s offer to take 150 asylum seekers from Nauru and Manus Island. According to our Minister for Immigration, the honourable Peter Dutton, Australia rejects this offer because it would encourage the people smugglers “to get back into business.” But does Australia have a legal right to say no? Doesn’t the government insist over and over again – including (with a straight face) before the High Court – that the detention facilities in these places are the responsibility of an independent sovereign country? Earlier this year, the High Court accepted this argument. But the minister has given the lie to the government’s claims. If the matter is truly one for the local authorities, who bear the burden of these refugees, then how come the Minister for Immigration exercises a veto on who can accept them? What is his legal basis for trumping the decision of local authorities as to where certified refugees can be placed? This smacks of meddling, or suggests that the whole arms-length argument was fraudulent and dishonest to begin with.

 

UNHCR calls for immediate transfer of refugees out of Manus Island, Nauru to ‘humane conditions’

Post Courier, May 05, 2016  Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has called for the immediate transfer of refugees and asylum seekers out of the Australian-run detention camps on both Manus Island and Nauru. A team from the UNHCR was on Nauru when Omid Masoumali, a young Iranian man who died later in a Brisbane hospital, set himself on fire. Days later a 21-year-old Somalian woman set herself alight and remains in a critical condition. “There is no doubt that the current policy of offshore processing and prolonged detention is immensely harmful,” UNHCR said in a statement. “There are approximately 2,000 very vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru [and] despite efforts by the governments of Papua New Guinea and Nauru, arrangements in both countries have proved completely untenable.” It added: “UNHCR’s principal concern today is that these refugees and asylum seekers are immediately moved to humane conditions with adequate support and services.” Over the last few years, the UNHCR has undertaken regular visits to offshore processing sites to monitor the situation of refugees and asylum seekers, including seven separate occasions to Nauru since 2012.

 

Manus Island: Asylum seekers and refugees no longer in detention, PNG authorities say

Post Courier, May 12, 2016

Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia

Some 900 asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island are no longer in detention, according to PNG authorities who say the men are free leave the centre during the day and can resettle in PNG if they want.  PNG’s Immigration and Citizenship Advisory Service says this means the 898 men are no longer in detention, in compliance with a Supreme Court ruling last month. The detainees on Manus Island say they now have the option to catch one of three buses into the main town each morning, but must sign agreements taking responsibility for their own safety. They are not allowed to walk out of the centre, because it is on a PNG naval base. They also say they may stay at an Immigration-run transit centre overnight.

Refugee Behrouz Boochani said the changes had not allowed true freedom of movement. “They are still controlling us,” he said. “Even when we want to go from Oscar to Delta [internal compounds] we should give our ID cards to the officers. “It means we are not free to walk.” Mr Boochani said the refugees and asylum seekers were still being separated inside the centre and refugees could not visit the compounds where men who were unsuccessful in their refugee applications were housed. The men are only allowed to leave Manus Island if they sign an agreement to be resettled in PNG, and the ABC understands only eight men have done that. Of those, three have returned to Manus Island, saying they had been robbed and threatened when they were resettled in Lae, and did not earn enough money to support themselves. Two of those refugees were arrested upon returning to Manus Island, one for trying to get back into the transit centre for refugees and another for repeatedly asking for a phone and credit to call his family. Another refugee remains in hospital in Lae after being violently robbed twice in two days. Only three men are still working, while a fourth is about to start his new job.


12 criminals bash, rob Catholic nuns
Post Courier, May 11, 2016

FOUR Catholic Sisters and two security guards were brutally bashed and robbed allegedly by 12 armed criminals in full police uniforms in their own house outside of Goroka in Eastern Highlands Province. The incident happened on Sunday night between 9pm and 10pm in Bihute, several kilometres outside of Goroka town where the Catholic Sisters from the institute of PNG and Australia Sisters of Mercy Works reside. They were in their house watching television when 12 armed men in police uniforms entered their premises after badly bashing up the two security guards at the gate.

Sister Maryanne Kolkia, the country program coordinator for Sisters of Mercy, said this was the fourth time criminals have attacked them. Sister Maryanne, who received heavy blows to her nose, lips and other parts of her face said the criminals were after a safe, which the sisters had no idea of.

“There was a knock on the door and I opened the door and saw several policemen so I thought they were regular policemen and opened the door and that is when they came in and demanded that I tell them where the safe for keeping the money was,” Sister Maryanne said. “I told them we are a non profiting NGO and we do not have any money or safe in our house but that explanation provoked them to really beat us up very badly.” The two security guards, who are now at the intensive care unit at the Goroka Hospital, were beaten up and were tied to a tree.

 

Barker links lack of jobs to crime

The National, Wednesday May 11th, 2016

AN economist says the lack of legitimate jobs and the restriction on informal sector income-earning opportunities are the main contributors to crime. Institute of National Affairs executive director Paul Barker said excessive alcohol or other drug consumption also encouraged crime and lawlessness.
“Job growth has not kept pace with population growth or perhaps growth expectations, especially of younger people, in the face of reports of big LNG projects and high reported economic growth rates,” he said.  “Urban areas suffer from extensive poverty, notably driven by the high urban living costs and low household incomes.” He said family and tribal disputes, including domestic violence, were crimes. “But (they) also partly reflect the pressure from inadequate opportunities in the face of population growth from large family sizes and lots of wantoks moving to town and burdening households,” Barker said.  “This is reinforced by the lack of official social protection for children and others (who either stretch the traditional wantok system, or can’t be supported by it). “But it largely comes down to lack of jobs, income-earning and education opportunities to keep individuals (and their dependents) surviving or engaged.” Barker said the restrictions on betel nut sale, a major incomes sources for rural farming households and urban, largely unskilled households, had added pressure on income-earning.

Samaritan Aviation saving lives along Sepik River
Post Courier, May 13, 2016

BLEEDING heavily she quickly described her symptoms to her friend in Australia, suspecting a pregnancy complication, Samaritan Aviation were called in which time she was saved along with her child. This is but one of the many life-saving operations, the aviation organisation has done to save many lives along the mighty Sepik River. It began as a dream by an American teenager in 1994 while on a trip, and by 2010, the first of many flights commenced. Samaritan Aviation president and pilot Mark Palme said lives have been saved and are continuing to be saved not only by the aviation services but by the medicines distributed to the 38 health aid posts along the Sepik River. Since April 2010, 24% of life flights have been for trauma patients, 44% have been patients suffering from diseases and illness while 33% have been women suffering from complications from pregnancy Mr Palme said. “Close to 55,000 kilograms of medical supplies have been delivered to the 38 Aid Posts and Health Centres along the Sepik River and has been saving thousands of lives.” Supporting Mr Palme and his team are the local members of parliament and supporters of the New Samaritan Aviation flights. Along with the plane they have, a new Cessna U206 which have been fitted with floaters to assist with their job.

 

Commodity price falls creating currency volatility, says analyst

12 May 2016 http://www.businessadvantagepng.com/commodity-price-falls-creating-currency-volatility-analyst/

The kina has fallen in value this year, but Papua New Guinea’s dependence on commodity exports means that it can be expected to fall further, says Rohan Fox, Lecturer and Research Fellow at the University of Papua New Guinea’s Division of Economics. He tells Business Advantage PNG that the country faces a difficult task managing the impact of sharp fluctuations in commodity prices.

Fox says this year the kina has depreciated, in some cases further than its competitors. But he believes

‘A lot of the problems associated with Dutch disease exist in PNG.’

‘Accounting for inflation differences is important because these reflect the differences in costs between countries. For example, inflation averages around 5-6 per cent in PNG while it is more like 0-3 per cent in its major trading partners. ‘This means that every year, even if exchange rates were kept exactly the same, PNG’s produce would become some 3 per cent more expensive than its major trading partners. Lowering the PNG exchange rate by 3 per cent per annum would correct for this.’

‘A high exchange rate also affects investment flows.  It makes it more expensive to invest in PNG relative to other countries, and it makes it cheaper to buy a house in Cairns or send one’s children to an overseas school.’

 

Rampant drug & alcohol consumption has PNG on a slippery slope

18 May 2016. http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/05/rampant-drug-alcohol-consumption-has-png-on-a-slippery-slope.html#more

IN FAST growing cities such as Port Moresby and Lae, weekends are no longer safe and peaceful.

This is particularly the case for settlement residents. A typical weekend in settlements in major centres around PNG is often characterised by alcohol and drug-fuelled nuisance and violence. In Lae, this dangerous lifestyle sees regular fights among different ethnic groups which have led to the loss of life and destruction of property worth millions of kina. Recent confrontations between Sepiks and Western Highlanders brought the once peaceful Madang to a halt. Port Moresby too has its fair share of problems like recent ethnic tensions that led to the temporary closure of Gordons Market. Yet Port Moresby, unlike the other centres, has benefited from quick intervention by law enforcement agencies. Nevertheless, this does not seem to be enough. Amidst the high rise buildings and freeways, a time bomb is ticking away as drug and alcohol consumption among youth are out of control. ….

Uncontrolled alcohol and drug consumption among youth is now one of the most pressing issues confronting PNG. What is more concerning is the reality that there seems to be no controls which would prevent underage and youth drinking. On the street, many youths can be seen consuming alcohol in broad daylight with no fear of being reprimanded by the authorities. Such acts of open defiance pose a threat to the public and to the future of this country. The thought of having PNG run by drug and alcohol addicts is frightening but looks more ominous as each day goes by. Putting statistics aside, a visit to any urban settlement makes one realise that we are only scratching the surface of a very big problem. In broad daylight, thugs armed with pocket knives or sharp objects prowl the bus stops of the cities in search of victims. In Port Moresby, the Tabari bus stop and Gordons Market are regarded as no-go zones for city residents due to the high frequency of petty crime, harassment and abuse.

Kids in this settlement, like any typical kid, long for a happy life. Echoes of laughter can be heard amongst the shabby houses with leaky roofs as kids frolic happily. Their smiles are a breath of fresh air in the humid atmosphere. But with rampant juvenile delinquency a norm in most settlements, you can’t help but wonder when this innocence will be replaced by the harsh realities of life. Even the kids in schools cannot fully develop their innate abilities because of our government’s failure in introducing reforms. A government that thrives on disunity and problems governs not by its conscience but by its ego. PNG is not for the few elites to enjoy but for all of us to take pride in and excel using our innate abilities.

 

Diabetes cases on the increase

Post Courier, May 20, 2016

The number of patients suffering with lifestyle diseases is said to be increasing every week at the Port Moresby General Hospital. This was according to the physician in charge of hemodialysis at the hospital, Dr Steven Bogosia. Dr Bogosia said that in the 1980s, the hospital treats about 20 patients a week. Last week he had to see 80 patients who are suffering with diabetes and kidney failure. He said the minimum that they would get in a week would be at 17 while 20 would be new cases mainly average to low income earners. “In terms of chronic failure cases when they come we know that diabetes is the leading cause of the chronic failure now hypertension at least gives some cases but not as much as diabetes alone,” Dr Bogosia said. He said that PNG is no different from other countries because many of them have these diseases and diabetes leads together with stroke or heart attacks do contribute to the LCD (Low Communicable Diseases). “Statistics that have been put up by the Government show that these LCD leads to about 63 per cent of deaths worldwide and that’s about 38 million people dying every year since 2013 and that’s what we have collected. “They have realised the dilemma that the entire globe is facing now and they have developed programs to help.” Dr Bogosia said that the Accidents and Emergency section of the hospital is the main point of access every night on patients being admitted with LCD. “We get about three to four admissions every night that are related to diabetes or heart attacks and the numbers don’t seem to be decreasing and if we get ten admissions for one night half of the admission will be diabetes cases,” he said. He said it was difficult to treat all the patients because there is lack of resources available at the hospital.

 

 Decline in health services delivery and supplies

Post Courier, May 23, 2016

The National Doctors Association and the Health Sector Unions during the media conference on Wednesday have also expressed their dissatisfaction to the government that had stripped off proper health care service in PNG. Dr. James Naipao said that the government action by slashing the health department budget and expenditure by 30% has greatly affected the health sector. Thus, the government then again introduced the Free Health Care Policy in which there was no prior consultation, preliminary assessment and infrastructure and training that were in place for such services. He added that, almost 80% of the public hospitals are barely surviving due to the insufficient and inadequate medical supplies and consumables, while some hospitals have already reduced some of the core activities in the health services to the public. Since the reduction of health funds, there has been halt in the recruitment of the workers in the public service and have also had an effect on the doctors and health workers that are employed. This has also added stress on the existing work force and those trained work force will not be employed. Mr. Naipao said in his statement that the provision of the health services in the country is a vital essential service in which the government should have not touched or reduced any budget money for the health department and the health sectors. “The government should have used budgetary money which was allocated to non-essential services instead of using the health budget. However, they have spent a lot of money on infrastructure developments, road constructions and other expenditures at the expense of essential services such as the health care provision,” he said.

 

Lack of funding forces school to close

The National, Friday May 27th, 2016

A vocational school in Madang sent home 282 students yesterday because it has no money to continue operating.  St Benedict Danip Vocational School principal John Paul Malangen said the school had no funds to operate anymore, forcing it to send students home and close. Malangen said he sent a letter informing the provincial education office of the issue and students would remain at home for an indefinite period until such time when there is funding available.  He said the school was located outside town and was a boarding school that depended on the Government’s tuition free-fee (TFF) subsidies. Malangen said the school only received K23,000 in TFF money  in the last quarter of last year. “This year we got nothing since the beginning of the year so we cannot continue operations,” he said. Education Minster Nick Kuman announcement in this paper yesterday for K75.6 million term two school subsidies would be released to schools today. Malangen welcomed the announcement but added that his staff were concerned whether their school would be included among the recipients of the TFF funds.

 

Crisis book

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B25wfD71-PY9ZXFwV0NlbjVBZnhpRWJNb3MteHVPazJ0VUww/view

Summary of Analysis of PNG Financial situation by Sir Mekere Morauta

http://www.pngblogs.com/2016/05/morautas-indepth-assessment-of-png.html

 

 

Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands

Statement: Christian faith, values, and principles in parliamentary Elections

Papua New Guinea proclaims itself to be a Christian Country.  It is manifest in the Constitution, in the National Anthem and the National Pledge.  Important Government officers make their oath of office on the Bible. However, are we really a Christian nation?

When the time for general and local level elections comes, the candidates may invoke their faith and pray for God’s blessing upon the country but, for many, Christian faith, values, and principles are practically put aside. The citizens who will exercise their right to cast their vote and elect candidates of their choice may have a similar attitude.

It is the duty of the Church to guide the moral conscience of Christian citizens. We, the Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea, would like to appeal to the faith of the people of PNG, and to their conscience, to use those Christian values when it comes time to cast their vote and elect leaders that will represent not only their interests, but the common good of all citizens. Pope Francis, in his Pastoral letter The Joy of the Gospel, said: “An authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal—always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it”. No 183

What are the qualities of a good leader who will truly represent people’s expectations and lead the country forward?  We can name some of those qualities.  First, the country needs competent leaders who are able to fulfil their duties, people who have proved themselves already in serving the community successfully.  A second quality is the personal integrity of the candidate. They should be God fearing, God loving and honest. Honesty means first of all an absolute commitment to uphold the human rights and freedom of others and be accountable for the assets of the country and the provinces and all public funds.   Honest leaders will not let themselves be dragged into corrupt dealings. They are leaders that people can trust. These qualities are fundamental for good leadership.  Then there are also other characteristics of good leaders that are to be considered: someone who has a vision for a better future for their people and put the common   good of all the people first.

During the election campaign candidates make many promises: delivery of services, better living conditions for the people, better roads and communication and so on.  Voters at this time must consider carefully the words and actions of the candidates.  They must try to discern what is true and what is just. They must know where the candidate stands in regard of certain issues that for the Church are not negotiable: respect for human life, education for the love of truth, health and other social services, preservation of the natural environment, and many other issues that affect the life of the people.

During the election campaign many immoral, corrupt and dishonest practices take place.  Many candidates “buy” votes with cash or goods. By doing this and many other dishonest practices they compromise their integrity and credibility. They may gain supporters but they lose respect; they show that they are entering into the cycle of corruption that is prevalent in our country.

It is the same for the voters who accept a bribe of cash or good or favours.  He or she enters in the same cycle of corruption, accepting a little money or rice but at the same time selling their souls and the future of the nation in exchange for his/her vote.

Another factor that adversely affects a free and fair democratic election is the “wantok system”. The “wantok system” is part of the culture of Papua New Guinea. If it had great value in the past, it is not so today because it is often abused for selfish motives.  Unfortunately, the practice has spread into high places and has serious consequences in our society.  Again, when it comes to voting and electing leaders, people often vote for a wantok even if this candidate does not have the qualities to lead. People who cast their votes should do so free of any undue pressure, internal or external.  Everyone should be able to vote in conscience for the candidate they consider the best servant leader.

The 2017 Elections are crucial for the future of Papua New Guinea. The conduct of a free, fair and safe election within the boundaries of the law is central to establishing a healthy democratic society in PNG.   Let the Christian principles and values of honesty, respect and integrity be our guides during this coming election.  It is time to get rid of the cycle of corruption through improper and illegal means of soliciting votes and underhanded political practices.

We, the Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea wish by this letter to appeal to the consciences of all citizens of Papua New Guinea. The honest vote of each citizen is important for the future of this country. All people have a moral responsibility to make this nation a great nation and a truly Christian nation.

 

Bishop Arnold Orowae

President of CBC-PNG/SI

15 April 2016

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Social Concerns Notes – April 2016

 

PNG’s fiscal woes: where has all the money gone?

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/04/pngs-fiscal-woes-where-has-all-the-money-gone.html#more   STEPHEN HOWES | Dev Policy Blog | Edited extracts

THERE are widespread reports these days from Papua New Guinea of budgetary difficulties, from budget cuts to church health services to government salary payment delays. Why?

Total expenditure is budgeted in 2016 to be slightly below the 2015 level. But it is still 50% above 2012 levels. That’s massive growth. So what is the problem? There are three.

The first is a big shift in allocations. Since 2012, there have been big increases in interest payments (due to increased borrowing), payments to members of parliament through district and provincial funds, payments to schools (in lieu of school fees), and compensation to employees.

Deduct these and there is an 18% increase in spending compared to 2012 to fund everything else, which includes critical things like maintenance and church health spending….

The second problem is revenue. The budget assumed that 2016 revenue would equal that of 2015. Given the slowdown in growth, this is realistic. Indeed, things may be worse, given that the oil price is below the level assumed in the budget. The budget assumed an oil price of $US54. In fact, oil prices are much lower. UK Brent crude, for example, averaged $53 per barrel last year and only $31 a barrel so far this year. Unfortunately, 2015 revenues were not the K12.5 billion estimated at the time of the 2016 budget. In fact, according to the final numbers just released, they were only K11 billion. ..

The third problem is borrowing. PNG needs to raise K2.1 billion in net borrowing this year to meet its budget targets. Domestic sources are limited, and the budget assumed K2.8 billion in a sovereign bond: almost 20% of total spending. But that plan has apparently been shelved, presumably assessed as infeasible, leaving a huge hole in the government’s financing plans. PNG can borrow more domestically than it assumed in the budget, but will find it difficult to fill the gap entirely.

These three give a sense of the situation PNG is in. Its current fiscal problems are due to the big shifts in the way the budget is spent, an inability to finance the deficit and much lower than expected revenue receipts.

What needs to be done? There are no easy answers. Expenditure reforms are needed. Nothing can be done about the interest bill, but the other “non-discretionary” items could in fact be put on the table.

Reform options include a freeze on salary increases, further cuts to district and provincial MP funds, and cuts to the school subsidy program. Revenue reforms should be re-examined. And a new borrowing plan is needed.

 

PNG’s frightening Final Budget Outcome

http://www.pngblogs.com/2016/04/pngs-frightening-final-budget-outcome.html

by Paul Flanagan 
PNG Treasury released last Thursday an update on what may really have happened with the 2015 budget. Like the mid-year Treasury MYEFO update, this is a frightening document that points to a collapse in government revenues of 20 per cent in 2015 relative to the budget, and reveals 2015 expenditure reductions of 37% in health, 36% in infrastructure and 30% in education, areas the government said would be protected. The combined budget deficits over the last three years of 24% of GDP are the largest for a three year period in PNG’s history. …

Conclusion
The fall in international commodity prices was outside of PNG’s control. However, spending so much up-front in anticipation of higher PNG LNG was a risky and, in the end, irresponsible strategy. The pattern of expenditure reductions in 2015 suggest that not enough is being done to protect priority sectors. Especially with the likelihood that there will be no sovereign bond, the FBO, and the collapse in revenue that it confirms, add to the arguments that PNG is in a fiscal cash crisis. PNG should be reaching out to friends for assistance, accepting that this will involve some conditions for getting the house back into order.
[For the full article, see the URL above]

 

CIMC: Be wary of violent male partners
Post Courier, March 31, 2016

BOYFRIENDS and husbands or males in teenage relationships do not have the right to inflict serious bodily injury upon their girlfriend, wife and partners. This is the concern expressed by the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council’s (CIMC) family and sexual violence action committee in response to Post-Courier’s front page story last Thursday of a lady being hospitalised after being bashed by her boyfriend. The CIMC’s family and sexual violence action committee expresses concern that such behaviour by males has become so common today.

Women are cautioned that if they notice such behaviour from husbands or partners who are possessive, insulting, demeaning, harassing or impose movement limitations and rules around personal or work life, limits your words, ability, ideas and action, digital abuse, sexting, cyber-bullying or threatening you through the social media you are encouraged to think carefully whether to still remain and become a continuous victim of violence, leave or move out of that unhappy relationship. “Many of us in PNG mistake these actions as a partner showing love and protective attitude,” it added. National program coordinator Ms Ume Wainetti said women tend to make excuses for their husband or partner and often blame themselves as causes of the violence inflicted.

“These women stay in such violent relationships hoping and believing that their partners will eventually change one day and some have died in these relationships,” she added.

 

PNG’s TB prevalence in top 10

The National, Thursday March 31st, 2016

PAPUA New Guinea has the highest tuberculosis prevalence in the Western Pacific region and the 10th highest globally, according to the World Health Organisation. In 2014, WHO estimated the TB incidence to be at 417 per 100,000 people (31,000 new cases every year), with a prevalence of 529 per 100,000 (39,000 cases every year), and a death rate of 40 per 100,000 among HIV-negative people. WHO medical officer Dr Tauhid-ul Islam told The National in Port Moresby yesterday that TB was the fourth highest cause of death for those admitted in PNG hospitals. It was also the major cause of mortality among HIV/AIDS patients. “TB is a social disease and a disease of poverty,” he said. “So obviously, this is very expensive for poor people, especially M/XDR-TB which is super expensive (costing between K15,000and K30,000 per patient only for drugs).” He said prevention could be achieved by cutting the transmission chain through detecting cases early and getting effective treatment. “The community can play a big role by raising awareness and assisting in the completion of the treatment,” he said.

Married too young

The National, Friday April 1st, 2016

A PUBLIC servant has advised parents in two Highlands provinces to stop marrying off their sons and daughters at an early age because they often end up in problems. Peter Nepil, an acting manager for the Community Development and Welfare Department, said some parents in Western Highlands and Jiwaka gave away their daughters before they turned 18 because of what they would get in return, such as money and pigs. He said early marriages often ended up in broken marriages, with couples failing to cope with community obligations. He said girls under 18 often came to the welfare office seeking assistance after their husbands deserted them with the children.
“Don’t think about the pigs, money, cow, cassowaries and force your daughter to get married. These things will still be there when your daughter reaches 18 and above,” he said. He said some married men lured girls with money, lying to them that they were single and looking for a partner. Nepil said many of these men had wives and children waiting for them at home. And most times they chase away the girls after they had used them.

 

Increase in number of young people involved in illegal activities
Post Courier, April 05, 2016

The number of young people taking part in illegal activities has swiftly increased in PNG, says Juvenile Justice executive Director Paul Wagun. Mr Wagun raised this concern when stressing on the type of crimes that children make to end up in jail or the Juvenile Justice Centres. “Children, especially those living in squatter settlements and rural communities cannot survive the advancing society and as a result, much younger people are now involving in illegal activities like selling marijuana rolls, pick-pocket, selling betel nut, taking part in pornographic activities and prostitution forced by adults and many more,” he said. He said the result of wanting more causes disparity, leading them to involve in illegal activities that they think money can be made quick so that they can have enough like others in urban areas do.

 

Bougainville’s lost generation is a ‘time bomb’ – John Momis

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/04/bougainvilles-lost-generation-is-a-time-bomb-john-momis.html#more

BOUGAINVILLE president John Momis has said he has concerns at the impact of under-resourcing and other large problems affecting the province’s education system. In an interview with Radio New Zealand International’s Don Wiseman, Dr Momis admitted that Bougainville has “a big percentage of our youth who can effectively be called a lost generation. “They are very, very frustrated, traumatised, and unless something is done soon it’s a total injustice to them and we are sitting on a time bomb.”

Dr Momis agreed with Wiseman’s observation that many of those children and their parents would not have gone to school because of the civil war, resulting in two successive generations without any opportunity of schooling. He also agreed that part of the problem was that the PNG government was not providing Bougainville with promised funds. “But even with the allocated funding, it just wouldn’t be enough to address the backlog of young people — kids — who have had no education,” Dr Momis said.

“Probably the most responsible way to deal with this problem would be to, if we had the funds, have more vocational schools to improve our current system of primary and then secondary education.

“But apart from vocational schools we might have to embark on a program of popular education, not just vocational, but even just having a mass education system of raising awareness, trying to encourage values, giving people a sense of hope, and then engaging them in simple socio-economic activities to get them involved so that they don’t become frustrated and become totally anti-social.”

Dr Momis said the Bougainville government could not itself go to overseas donors to solicit funds.

“Unfortunately donors are also beholden to the national government, which I think is wrong. Donors are not involved in any subversive activity and are probably our only other viable alternative way of obtaining some funds.”

 

Baisu jail food supply cut
Post Courier, April 08, 2016

THE Baisu Jail in Western Highlands Province has run out of food supply for the month of April due to none payment of monthly ration fees to the supplier. The only supplier Whisky Fresh engaged by the PNG Correctional Institution Services (CIS) through Central Supply Tender Board claimed that CIS was yet to settle over K700, 000 for previous supplies. The Managing Director of Whisky Fresh, Berry Maip who was engaged to supply food ratios to Bundaira Jail in Kainantu, Bihute in Goroka, Barawagi in Simbu and Baisu in Mount Hagen told Post Courier yesterday that his company will not supply food ratios to these jails until his previous payments are made. Mr Maip said he was not happy with the management of the CIS for mistreating him by terminating his contract on the 2nd of April for supplying food ratios to Bundaira and Bihute Jail in Eastern Highlands Province. He said his company was loyal with the Department of CIS and supplied the food rations on time and even sometimes spending his own money in making sure prisoners have food on daily basis.

“Since I was engaged in 2013 to supply food ratios to four jails in the Highlands, I never failed them. I make sure food supplies were provided on time in every month,” Mr Maip said.

 

Critical drugs shortage
Post Courier, April 13, 2016

THE Port Moresby General Hospital has been without life saving drugs for more than six months, forcing patients to buy their own prescribed drugs. “The Port Moresby General Hospital is in need of essential lifesaving drugs for close to six to seven months now,” clinical services executive director Dr Umesh Gutpa said yesterday. Dr Gutpa said patients are being checked and are prescribed medication so they can buy their medicine in pharmacies because the hospital has run out of essential lifesaving drugs. He said this is because the Government has cut the health budget by 40 per cent and the hospital was not able to buy the medicine to provide for the patients. Dr Gupta also spoke about the use of antibiotics sold on the streets, warning that these are not safe for use. He urged the public not to buy these antibiotics, including amoxicillin and Panadol, which are sold on the streets without prescriptions. He said that is why antibiotics are sold on the streets in the city which is risky as people could become drug resistant when they use too much of the medicine and asked the Government to give more money

 

See us as partners: Bishops

The National, Tuesday April 19th, 2016

THE Catholic Bishops Conference has called on the Government to consider churches as partners in delivering health and education services. The conference’s general-secretary Father Victor Roche, said in the 1970s, the Catholic Education Services joined the Government to form an association of equals in a unified system of education in PNG. He said this partnership had lasted but there was little respect shown to the church by the national and provincial education authorities.
“They rarely consult their partners when setting new policies and making changes in the education system,” Roche said. “In this context, we find that for PNG, the partnership we entered into with the State many years ago is now in crisis, even in chaos. “Now as the years went by, it looks like the Catholic Church and the other churches were more considered as the church giving service which is good. But we have to be treated as partners to ensure that the services are delivered effectively and efficiently.” He said national leaders including ministers talked about the church playing an important role in delivering health and education services. “But they do not consider the churches, especially the Catholic Church, the important player, to be a partner at present.”

Mainline churches launch booklet

Post Courier, April 20, 2016

THE seven mainline Christian churches receiving aid from the Australian government for its social programs have launched a booklet on gender equality. Called the Theology of Gender Equality, the booklet was launched in Port Moresby yesterday and is part of the PNG Churches  Partnership Program.

Leaders from the seven churches and their counterpart Australian church-based non-government organisations attended the event which coincided with a  two-day forum on the PNGCPP that is under review. This is the second document that has been produced by the seven churches under PNG CPP, the first being the Theology of Development statement which was launched at the Parliament in 2014.

Church leaders speaking at the launch agreed  that prevalence of violence and gender inequality is high in this country.

 

Woman donates food to drought areas

Post Courier, April 22, 2016

SHE was waving a printed copy of the Summary of Assessments of Food Supply Situations in Kandep, Enga Province and Panduaga, Hela Province. She is Maria Peter and she had an assessment which was produced by the Church Partnership Program food security assessment team at end of March. “I just read about the alarming situation and stories of children in drought-affected areas. Is this your work?” she asked. Ms Peter has just walked into the office of the Hela Community Good Action forum on March 30. James Kinu Komengi confirmed that he had led a rapid assessment team into the communities and the report was theirs. The dire situations expressed in the report were also real. People living in the Panduaga and Tengo Valleys of Hela Province and many more in the entire Kandep valley of Enga Province needed food. Mr Komengi told Ms Peters that many families were feeding mainly on green leaves like cabbages and watercress. Then, she listened to some stories of Panduaga Elementary School students taking extreme risks to find food. Nearly all children came to school without breakfast and lunch. “Weak and dehydrated children were sleeping in classroom in front of us. Many fainted but recovered to go into the bushes to find wild food themselves. One girl stole sweet potato and accepted a beating by the owner. “Then, she stole again the next day and accepted another beating again. “It was obvious this mother of many children was not going to hold back her tears as I shared more stories,” he said. Maria Peter said she had 10kg of very good corn seeds in a bag and wanted to share with those people in need. She asked to give it to a church pastor who will share with the needy families. That was her contribution to the Churches’ Christian Ministry. She also said she will transfer K500 into the United Church account Hela Region disaster relief to buy more seeds for families.

 

SHP setup medivac services for health

Post Courier, April 21, 2016

SICK people from remote communities throughout the Southern Highlands would now have access to health services from four major hospitals in the province through the establishment of a Medivac service of the Provincial Government. The Southern Highlands Provincial Executive Council has passed a resolution to establish the medevac service to assist rural communities where many die silently due to lack of proper health facilities. Announcing the decision, Southern Highlands Governor William Powi said the Provincial Government will enter into an arrangement with local airline company South West Air to provide medevac services to remote communities. He said a 24 hour hotline service would be established at Mendi town to receive phone and two-way radio calls from the remote communities when there is a need for emergencies services. He said after receiving the emergency calls a team of health officials and the airline will fly to the remote communities and retrieve the sick people to access health services in four of the hospitals in the province.

 

Can Rimbunan Hijau’s powerful grip over PNG be broken?

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/04/can-rimbunan-hijaus-powerful-grip-over-png-be-broken.html#more 22 April 2016

JAMES Sze Yuan Lau and Ivan Su Chiu Lu must be extremely busy men. Together, they are listed as directors of some 30 companies involved in various activities and services related to logging or agribusiness in Papua New Guinea. The former is the managing director of Rimbunan Hijau (RH) PNG and son-in-law of RH’s founder Tiong Hiew King; the latter is executive director of RH PNG Ltd.

All but two of these 30 companies have the same registered address at 479 Kennedy Road in the national capital, Port Moresby–the headquarter of the RH group in the country. Their ability to magically fit into a relatively small office space on Kennedy Road is not the only puzzling fact about the subsidiaries of the Malaysian group, Rimbunan Hijau. Out of the 30 above mentioned companies, 16 subsidiaries that are directly involved in logging or agribusiness have one other thing in common.

According to their financial records, they don’t make a profit. Most of them have been working at a loss for over a decade. During the 12 years for which financial records were available to the Oakland Institute’s researchers, all together, the subsidiaries declared an average loss of about US$ 9 million every year.

How the group – the largest logging operator in PNG – manages to operate at a loss for so many years, and yet still remains in business? If it were unprofitable to log and export timber from PNG, why would these companies continue their operations? These are some of the critical questions raised in a report released in February 2016, The Great Timber Heist: The Logging Industry in Papua New Guinea, by the Oakland Institute. The report exposed massive tax evasion and financial misreporting by foreign logging companies, allegedly resulting in non-payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.

Recovering tax revenue would be certainly welcomed by PNG given the acute budget crisis the country has been facing in recent months. Yet, it is unclear whether the government of PNG will decide to take action following these revelations.

After all, despite the promises made by the Prime Minister, still no action has been taken two and a half years after the damning report on recent land leases, produced by the Commission of Inquiry, which identified all sorts of malpractices and irregularities and concluded that most leases were illegal.

RH is controlled by Tiong Hiew King, one of Malaysia’s richest men. Although logging is the core business of the group – ‘Rimbunan Hijau’ ironically means ‘forever green’ in Malay.

 

Papua New Guinea First to Finalize National Climate Plan Under Paris Agreement

http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/04/papua-new-guinea-first-to-finalize-national-climate-plan-under-paris-agreement/

On March 29, Papua New Guinea became the first country to formally submit the final version of its national climate action plan (called a “Nationally Determined Contribution,” or NDC) under the Paris Agreement. The small Pacific nation’s plan to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 is no longer just an “intended” nationally determined contribution (INDC) – it is now the country’s official climate plan.
Papua New Guinea’s NDC marks a step forward in the process of implementing the landmark international climate agreement adopted at COP21 in Paris last year. In the lead up to COP21, countries submitted INDCs, setting out what climate actions they proposed to take to contribute to the global community’s collective effect to limit global warming. To date, 161 INDCs have been submitted representing the national climate plans of 188 countries and covering 98.7 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The Paris Agreement provides a legal framework for these climate plans.

Papua New Guinea’s leadership in taking this important next step towards implementing the Paris Agreement should be widely noted and applauded. We can now to look forward to many other countries formalizing their national climate action plans and further building the momentum for a low-carbon, climate-resilient world.

 

Mt Hagen city changes for the better

The National, Thursday April 21st, 2016

MT HAGEN, third largest city in the country, made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Now it is changing for the better. Over the last five weeks, streets have been cleaned, petty crimes on the streets are largely gone, sale of animal in public spaces have stopped along with store goods, betel nuts and cigarettes.The harassment of the travelling public at the main bus stops like Jiwaka to Lae, Enga or Mendi to Tari are down significantly. Criminals who usually armed themselves with screw drivers, pocket knives and long swords and surviving on other people’s efforts or food and property, are also disappearing fast. Positives changes in the city started after the establishment of the new Hagen city authority by an act of parliament passed last year.

Authority’s chief executive officer Leo Noki and his team have taken control of the city.

Their efforts to clean it up was boosted by police and women’s groups living in city suburbs.

The city is now like in the past, during the 1980s when Late Rapheal Doa was the Lord Mayor and people used to call Hagen  beautiful and one of the cleanest cities in the country.

 

PNG Journalist Threatened

By Scott Waide – EMTV News   24 April

Another low point came yesterday when another Papua New Guinean journalist was threatened by senior members of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary for maintaining contact with the suspended head of the Police Fraud Squad, Matthew Damaru. The seasoned journalist working for a daily newspaper was threatened with arrest simply for doing his job and doing what is a fundamental part of his job – maintaining contact with an important source. It is infuriating that we, as a country have allowed arms of government to stoop low to threaten those whose job it is to speak out for those who are unable. While the arrest did not eventuate, the fact that a threat was issued has struck at the heart of constitutional rights of freedom of the media and freedom of speech.

A free media able to challenge a government and those in positions of power and to hold them to account is vital for a vibrant democracy to thrive and to ride out political and economic turbulence a country many be going through. A people cannot be silenced. The act to silence the masses by silencing the media is – as history has shown – always unsustainable and always short lived.

While Papua New Guineans have not protested violently, it does not mean a dissenting voice cannot be heard. Silencing a journalist is so old school and reeks of 70s and 80s Latin American military dictatorships. It is what is done by 21st century, Asian regimes that attempt to stifle and control public opinion in the age social media. It simply does not work.

 

Minister: Malaria goals reached

The National, Monday April 25th, 2016

THE country has achieved the Millennium Development Goals set for malaria by reducing the incidence rate to 48 cases per 1000 people and mortality rate to 48 deaths per 100,000 population.

Health Minister Michael Malabag, in a statement, said the Government realised the impact of malaria on people and singled it out as one of the priority diseases.

“Papua New Guineans must seriously reflect on this single disease that affects up to 90 per cent of our people and this great achievement that has been made through the efforts of the government and the many partners,” Malabag said. He said from 2005 to 2009, the Global fund provided more than US$20 million (K61 million) under the round three grants. “In the current round eight grant, the global fund has again made available another US$120 million (K264m). AusAID has provided A$3 million (K7.3m) in the last three years.“The Government alone cannot win this battle but it will require the efforts of all partners, the private sector, NGOs, communities and individuals.”

Malabag said factors needed to combat malaria were for:

  • The Government to remain engaged in the fight to control malaria;
  • Donors who pledge funding to fulfil these commitments;
  • Delivery of malaria control interventions from the private sector, non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations and faith-based organisations

“I challenge my colleague members of parliament and provincial governments to recognise the impact of malaria on our people and take action.”

 

More doctors needed

The National, Tuesday April 26th, 2016

MORE doctors are needed in rural hospitals, Dr David Mills from the Kompiam Hospital in Enga says. Mills said the Master of Medicine rural doctors training programme   was one way more doctors could be lured to rural hospitals. He said the churches were behind the programme because they noticed the small number of doctors in rural hospitals, which were set up by missionaries. Mills said because of this programme, the Christian Health Services had five specialist doctors in rural hospitals.

“We thought of setting up our own programme. We partnered with the University of Papua New Guinea to make it a full specialist programme,” he said. Mills said the programme was well known in other countries as well. “In fact, there is no other programme in Asia Pacific where rural doctors are educated to be specialist medical doctors,” he said. Mills urged rural hospitals to start thinking about taking on board medical students and train them. “We’ve got good hospitals so start thinking of getting those students because they will come and work with you in the rural hospital.”

 

Manus shutdown ordered

Post Courier, April 27,2016, 02:37 am

Australia’s detention and processing of asylum seekers in Manus Province are unconstitutional and illegal, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday. The five-man bench ruled that the detention breached the right to personal liberty in the Constitution. Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika, Justices Sir Bernard Sakora, Ambeng Kandakasi, Don Sawong and Terence Higgins also ordered that both Australia and Papua New Guinea Governments take all necessary steps to stop the operations of the regional processing centre.

The decision was made following an application by then Opposition Leader and Vanimo-Green MP Belden Namah in his capacity as the then Opposition Leader. The transfer of the asylum seekers was done under an arrangement between the Australian and PNG Government in the form of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on September 8, 2012. A second MoU was signed on August 2013. Later, the two Governments sought to validate the arrangements by an amendment to Section 42 of the Constitution (now declared unconstitutional). The court found amongst others that the undisputed facts clearly reveal that the asylum seekers had no intention of entering and remaining in PNG. Their destination was and continued to be Australia. They did not enter PNG and remained in PNG on their own accord. The court found that their transfer was done forcefully and outside the Constitution and legal framework of PNG. The court therefore ruled that the transfer and processing of the asylum seekers be deemed unconstitutional and illegal.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/papua-new-guinea-court-finds-australias-detention-of-asylum-seekers-on-manus-island-is-illegal-20160426-gofaaj.html#ixzz46vQjutX7

 

10,000 teaching positions vacant

Post Courier, April 27, 2016

THERE are about 10,000 vacant positions for teachers in schools nationwide. The Teaching Services Commission chairman Baran Sori revealed the startling figures yesterday and admitting that there was no urgency in filling these positions. “With the figure in hand, Government’s policy on basic quality education for all may never be achieved if those positions are not filled,” Mr Sori said. Mr Baran Sori explained the sad reality faced by the education department and the entity that looks after the interest of teachers (Teaching Services Commission) that struggles each year to fill the gaps but cannot do so because it is hit by unwilling teachers, a small number of graduating teachers each year and the increased number of children searching for school every year. “Quality education can only be balanced with enough resources and manpower. But the reality now is that we lack manpower.” On top of the issue is the lack of teachers, there is the lack of school infrastructure. In a recent governor’s conference on education, a call was made for 600 grade nine spaces to be created each year to address education for all. Mr Sori said there are just not enough teachers to make such initiatives work for the Government. He said the Government wants every child to receive quality education but it will take a long time to close the teaching position gap. These vacant positions are mostly in remote and unattractive primary, high and secondary schools where many teachers refused to live and work. Some of those remote schools are in Provinces such as Western, Gulf and West Sepik. The chairman also noted that teachers do not want to move out of any Province at a given time and are left unattached which create a position. He gave an example that in 2013, teachers in East New Britain Province did not want to move out of the Province to new schools. Also it has become a norm for teachers to migrate to towns and cities for better living conditions as well.

 

Bougainville in financial crisis

Post Courier, April 26, 2016

THE ongoing dispute between Bougainville and the National Government over more than K600 million in unpaid grants has caused a financial crisis in Bougainville. The revenue shortage in the Autonomous Region is causing civil unrest that could lead to instability. Businesses are experiencing severe slowdowns and service providers are not being paid by the Autonomous Bougainville Government due to a lack of funds. Some disgruntled providers have started possessing government property – in particular vehicles – due to lack of payments. The ABG has an annual budget in access of K350 million made up of grants from the National Government and aid donor funding. But this year’s budget remains a piece of paper without substance. Bougainville President John Momis said in January that the National Government owes his government K635 million in unpaid grants.

 

Are PNG’s family and sexual violence police units working?

http://devpolicy.org/pngs-family-sexual-violence-police-units-working-20160426/    When women in Papua New Guinea experience violence and try to access help, the police can often be just another challenge to surmount. Under-resourced, slow to act, and sometimes dismissive of domestic violence cases in particular, the police response has been criticised in report after report on the family and sexual violence (FSV) challenge in PNG, despite the dedication of some individual officers to the issue.

Family and Sexual Violence Units (FSVUs) within the PNG police have been one of, if not the main attempt to improve the response that survivors receive when trying to access justice. The Australian aid program has been a particular supporter of this approach and, through the PNG-Australia Law and Justice Partnership (PALJP), has supported the establishment of 15 FSVUs across the country since 2008.

A recent evaluation of FSVUs provides some insight into whether they are working, exactly what police officers and survivors are up against, and what more needs to be done.

In many ways, the report paints a grim picture of the operating environment for FSVUs – not allocated resources in police budgets (this was bluntly stated: “The Evaluation Team found no evidence of budgets allocated for FSVUs”), not formally recognised within official police structures, under-staffed, and in some cases, under-trained. Although the report notes the major problems with data collection at many FSVUs, particularly case data, the data tables in the report show increasing demand for services year-on-year. They also show just how low the rates of arrest are in cases seen by a FSVU—something that earlier research in Lae also demonstrated. For example, in Lae in the first quarter of 2015, out of 49 FSV cases only two arrests were made. In Waigani, from 411 FSV cases in 2014, there were only seven arrests, and no follow-up at all in 109 of those cases.

The evaluation argues that the low arrest numbers are “linked to the fact that most FSVU officers are female and they are not in a position to arrest people due to potential threats to their safety” – but it cannot show that arrest rates would change if the gender profile within FSVU staffing did. …

Officers volunteer to work in FSVUs, and women have been more willing — and they were also willing to go out and make arrests.

Both Lusby’s research and the evaluation show that the overwhelmingly female FSVU officers struggle to get assistance from their overstretched colleagues when they need it and ask for it. Their resources, such as cars, are often poached by other police units (and the evaluation shows that many officers working in FSVUs don’t know how to drive). They are also swamped with cases. Adequate resourcing, of FSVUs and the police more broadly, would seem to be the biggest constraint on arrest numbers and case follow-through, rather than the gender of officers.

 

Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands 2016

Statement on Catholic Education and Health Services

 

In light of our desire to bring the mercy of God to the poor and vulnerable and empower them also to witness to Gods mercy, the Catholic Church needs urgently to address the consequences of the collapse of our partnership with the State in the delivery of education and health services. This historical relationship, which has great potential for good, is poorly understood today, lies in tatters and needs repair without delay.

The task of all

There are many Catholic men and women in the national and provincial public service departments and many others who hold political positions of great influence. The Catholic communities call on these Catholic lay people and others of good will, who hold power and distribute services, to carry out their responsibilities with honesty, fairness, and justice, while also exercising a preferential option for the poor. We appreciate the support of members of the PNGSI Federation of Religious who work tirelessly for the poor and also speak for them on many occasions. We are also greatly encouraged by the “Catholic Professionals”, which has spoken out on a number of social issues in recent months. We hope their words will translate into positive action, and that their movement will grow and prosper for the benefit of all. The Catholic community would also like to see Divine Word University become a more active participant in the promotion of Catholic social teaching and the training of social workers to assist and provide advocacy for the poor and disadvantaged..

Catholic Education Services

The traditional spiritual works of mercy we reflect upon during this Year of Mercy include offering instruction to those in need of guidance. This clearly applies to our children and is the reason the Catholic Church runs hundreds of schools at all levels, especially in the remote rural areas. Teaching and guiding the young is a sacred task and solemn obligation of parents and families. But they need help. Thus, through the years, at the village and community level, the Catholic Church has established schools, some of which are over a hundred years old. For economic and other reasons by 1970 Catholic Education Services had joined with the Government system to form an association of equals in a unified system of education in PNG. This partnership endures but seems little respected by National and Provincial Departments of Education, since they rarely consults their partner when setting new policies and making changes to the education system. In this context, we find that, for PNG, the partnership we entered into with the State many years ago is now in crisis, even in chaos.

For example, it is well known that there are major problems and imbalances in the provision of tuition fee free education (TFF). As a result of the TFF policy, a large number of classrooms are over-crowded and many older children have been inappropriately accepted back into lower primary grades, to work their way through the system as adults. Infrastructure has not kept up with student population and funding has not kept up with student population. Teacher morale is at an all-time low and absenteeism on the part of teachers and students is high. TFF and other policies connected with it is an example of an idea introduced and implemented without Churches Education Council and Catholic Agency involvement, and consequently the system faces many problems that could have been avoided.

Despite many attempts to discuss issues related to education with the State of PNG, we feel that we are steadily losing control of our schools. They become less and less a means by which we can evangelize, catechize, educate and share God’s mercy with, our children. The Catholic Church is now at a critical point of frustration, so that if there is no change for the better in this situation, for PNG, in the light of the mercy that demands justice, those dioceses with no functioning Memorandum of Agreement with their respective Provincial Education Boards, may not be able to open as Catholic schools in 2017.

Catholic Health Services

Catholic Church Health Services (CCHS) are also important to our Catholic communities because we see them as a means by which we carry on the healing ministry of Christ. Mothers, babies and children are the major recipients of these services, especially through antenatal and immunization programs. The recent cuts in funding for church run health services, salaries and operational, is a shockingly ignorant and insensitive decision by Government. The cuts will have a major negative impact on our healing ministry in general, particularly in rural areas where population concentration is high and mobility to seek health care outside the area very low.

A broken promise

In 2013 the Prime Minister of PNG visited the Bishops during their annual meeting which was that year held in Madang. He promised to arrange a meeting between representative bishops and respective Education and Health Ministers and Secretaries to discuss problems and iron out difficulties. Unfortunately these meetings did not eventuate, so urgent issues still remain unresolved. We renew our desire to hold such meetings.

In all of this, we are more and more aware of the rather sad state of the PNG economy and wonder why this is so.

Bishop Arnold Orowae

CBC President, 15 April 2016

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Social Concerns Notes – March 2016

Health Minister Malabag confirms K50m cut

The National, Wednesday March 23rd, 2016

HEALTH Minister Michael Malabag says K50 million has been cut from the budget allocation to church-run health institutions because of the nation’s current financial situation. Responding to concerns raised by Northern Governor Gary Juffa and Lae MP Loujaya Kouza about the budgetary cuts made to church-run health institutions, Malabag said most of the cut “centred on the payment of wages for workers employed in the Christian Health Services”.“My department will detail the actual figures and exactly where the cuts were made and will table it before the National Executive Council. And NEC is aware of it,” he said. “But as I’ve said, we cannot compromise the health situation of the people.  “Although we are struggling within the current situation, we are not directly putting the health of our people at risk.”

Killing the National Health System

The Department of Health seems no longer able to help sick people in need of medical assistance, treatment from doctors and medicines.

Sister nation Fiji spends $US154 per citizen on Health. PNG spends $US49.

See comments in: http://www.pngblogs.com/2016/03/peter-oneill-lies-again-about-national.html?m=1

 

http://health.pngfacts.com/2016/03/catholic-health-services-in-png-scaled.html

THE Catholic Church has lamented the Government chopping K50.7 million from its health budget, which will affect services at its rural hospitals, health facilities, VCT centres, a nursing school and community health worker training schools. The church’s medical arm – the Catholic Church Health Services of Papua New Guinea – currently runs five rural hospitals, 244 health facilities, 29 standalone VCT (voluntary counseling and testing) centres, a nursing school and four community health worker training schools. But the CCHS, in a full-page advertorial in last Friday’s edition of the Post-Courier, warned that the cut will impact on the operations of its services and the 3000 staff who work there.

“Those facilities are staffed by almost 3000 people, who not only provide services to the community but who support the local economy. Most of those services are located in remote and rural areas where the majority of the population lives. In many of those places there are no other health centres close by,” the church said. The church said the budget cut could now force it to lay off staff, which would mean other workers taking on extra responsibilities. “They are now facing the real prospect of having to take on the work of staff who have left or been laid off. To then be told that their pay will be cut to 2014 levels will certainly have an adverse effect on morale.” The church provides over a quarter of all health care in PNG hence any cuts in the Government’s budgetary support will have an effect on over 80 per cent of the country’s 7 million people.

Another church partner, the United Church also confirmed – through its moderator Reverend Bernard Usiai – that the Government also cut their budget this year.

 

K48m budget cut affects CHS
Post Courier, March 23, 2016

WE have a crisis at hand, is how Christian Health Services chief executive officer Joseph Sika describes the huge K48 million cut by the Government on the church budget. Mr Sika and three of his senior staff said yesterday they are negotiating for an audience with a member of the National Executive Council soon to rethink its decision. CHS oversees 89 agencies of the 24 churches or institutions running health services, many of which are located in rural areas.

This year, CHS has budgeted for K120 million, but the Government is allocating K72.1 million, a shortfall of K48.5 million.

 

I’m disgusted as MPs laugh at PNG health cuts

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/03/im-disgusted-as-mps-laugh-at-png-health-cuts.html#more By MP Gary Juffa.

YESTERDAY I watched in absolute disgust as members of parliament giggled and laughed as the Minister for Health made light humour of the government slashing funding by K50 million for Church run health facilities. I had sought an explanation about the cut to our health services by the government and asked the Minister to explain exactly by how much the budget would be reduced and what programs would be cut. Minister Malabag confirmed that the government had cut K50 million from the wages component of church-run programs. But the most remote areas in PNG where most of our people live are serviced only by the churches. Why did the government lie and declare that no cuts would be made to education and health last year and then do this? …

Most government MPs giggled and laughed as the Health Minister joked about the matter in response to a question by the Member for Lae, Loujaya Kouja. Our people’s health is no laughing matter, especially when many people in remote areas struggle to come to town to find help and wait for hours and even days for treatment. Many vulnerable people such as babies and the elderly are dying from treatable medical conditions. Saving lives is a fundamental role of any government but this PNG government finds the deplorable health situation in our country and our people’s misery a laughing matter.

 

Jails overcrowded by remandees: Nepo

Post Courier, February 29, 2016

ACTING Correctional Services Commissioner Bernard Nepo said the huge number of remandees held in jails must be addressed. He said more than 70 of the 94 prisoners who escaped from the Buimo jail outside Lae last Thursday were detainees who have not been convicted yet. He said he has visited the National Courts to express his sentiments over the overcrowding of jails by remandees, some of whom have been in jail for four to five years awaiting trial. He said of the Buimo escapees last Thursday, 76 were remandees while 10 of the 12 who were killed were remandees. “Remandees is a problem for our jails. Remandees are joint responsibilities of the judiciary, the police and the Correctional Services. Our main responsibility is the convicted prisoners. “Pressure is building and that with the shortage of manpower, rations and the jail compound space and more importantly the rundown facilities cannot hold the huge number of remandees so we need to address the situation,” he said.

 

TB a massive problem with big challenges: WHO

The National, Monday February 29th, 2016

TUBERCULOSIS is an enormous problem with enormous challenges in PNG and the response that has been put in place to address it, particularly the multi-drug resistance TB, has really taken off, a doctor said. This message came from World Health Organisation’s (WHO) representative Dr Pieter Van Maaren during the first multi-drug resistant (MDR) and external multi- drug resistant (XDR) TB emergency response taskforce meetingin Port Moresby last Thursday. Van Maaren said there was a joint government partner mission to Daru in Western to review the situation. He said as the response was unfolding, there was enormous progress made.

 

This is my B’ville Crisis

Post Courier, March 01, 2016

WITH the will and determination of a mother to remove blockades to give her people and the children another chance of life, she felt that the inside story had to be told. Veronica Hatutasi was on the streets, a jobless and displaced Bougainvillean woman until she was given a chance in the media world to disseminate and educate the many thousand Papua New Guineans about the Bougainville conflict. It is really her story, a mother’s story told through the eyes and in body language to her children and grandchildren about the Bougainville Crisis. “I lived on the island with my young family when the crisis erupted, experienced and survived some of the worst years of the crisis in my home area of Siwai, southwest Bougainville,” she recalled. “I maintained neutrality from any of the factions of the Bougainville Crisis and focused on telling a simple story of hope, survival, human relations, violence and disillusion in the time of war. “It was a struggle for me, I never gave up, all I wanted was to write on the truth of life in Bougainville in truly difficult times on a once war-torn island,” she said. She said, despite all the challenges she had gone through she had not forgotten her people, she handled the reporting professionally right through to covering the cease fire. The Crisis may be a thing of the past now for many who have rebuilt their lives and moved on but for some, fears, tears and heart aches will remain. For Veronica, who lived, experienced and survived the Bougainville war, she felt that the inside story had to be told so she wrote a book Behind the Blockade.

“The book I’ve written provides an account and experience many will identify and recount in their own experiences where-ever on Bougainville. “I have told it as how it happened and have told it my way. For the first time, a Bougainvillean woman has spoken from her experiences,” she said. “For anyone wanting to write about it needed a journalist, a historian or any other academic, even a novelist. “If I can do it, all you other female writers out there can do it to. This is a period that is full of materials and memories that are unwritten for future writers to publish books about. We are about 30 years since the Crisis started and took hold,” she said.

Anyone interested to purchase a copy of her book can contact her on 72739408 or email: vhatutasi@wantok.com.pg

 

Woman receives prestigious US award

Post Courier, March 03, 2016

WINNIE William has been honoured as the Papua New Guinean nominee for the 2015 United States Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award. Ms William was honoured as this year’s nominee in recognition of her courage, her dedication, and her sacrifice to save the lives of women.

Ms William, from Mendi in Southern Highlands Province, is a medical professional and serves as the Catholic health secretary for the Diocese of Mendi. Established in 2007, the US Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award pay tribute to women around the globe who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality, and social progress often at great personal risk. Newly appointed United States Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Catherine Ebert-Gray said, “Winnie consistently demonstrated exceptional courage and impact in advocating for good governance, law and order, and women’s empowerment in Papua New Guinea. “In spite of personal threats, discrimination, lawlessness, and violent criminal acts, Winnie steadfastly placed her own life in danger to save other women from horrific sorcery-related violence,” Ms Ebert-Gray said.

 

Churches urged to help orphans

Post Courier, March 03, 2016

A MAN, who drives orphans and other disadvantaged children to and from school everyday, says if all the churches in Port Moresby did something for orphans, there would be no children on the streets.

Rex Kia said this in light of children still living on the streets even though they are being assisted to go to school by the Life PNG Care (LPNGC) under its Strongim Pikinini Education program. This year, SPEP is sponsoring 75 children to go to school of which only 22 will live full-time at the home care of LPNGC , while the rest are living elsewhere, including on the streets. The children living on the streets have expressed a desire to live in a home and have asked LPNGC Director Collin Pake and his wife Freda to take them in, but there is no more space for additional children.

“This is a challenge to the churches. This is their work.’’ I used to think that going to church alone was enough, but now I find that doing something for the poor was more satisfying because this is what God desires.” he said. He said he had decided to volunteer and be a driver for these children because he realized that it was too much for Mr Pake to do everything – drive the children to and from school every day – as well as hold down a full-time job.

 

O’ Neill grilled by Aust media over Pikinini Act

Post Courier, March 04, 2016

FAILURE to certify the amended Lukautim Pikinini Act of 2015 by the Papua New Guinea Parliament has put Prime Minister Peter O’Neill on spotlight at the Australian Press Club in Canberra yesterday. This is following reports to Medecins Sans Frontieres report that was launched this week and MSF’s urging certification of act passed last year, then stalled welfare law remains uncertified.

According to the Guardian newspaper in Canberra, Mr O’Neill said: “I will find out why it is not”, responding to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

 

Lukautim Pikinini Act certified
Post Courier, March 15, 2016

THE Lukautim Pikinini Act has been certified by the legislative council. The acting Clerk of Parliament Kala Aufa confirmed yesterday the certification happened last Friday. With the certification done, the legislative council will ensure that the Lukautim Pikinini Act passed by Parliament is in accordance with other laws. The Lukautim Pikinini law ensures children are protected, have access to their rights and emphasises parental responsibility and duty to maintain a child. The law calls for all children to have the right to be protected from all forms of abuse, neglect and maltreatment and have access to equal opportunity and access to education. It specifies that where any conflict arises between the interest of the child and another person, the interests of the child are paramount. Also, the preferred environment for the care and upbringing of a child is his own family and the responsibility for the care and protection of children rests primarily with their parents.

 

El Niño hits Papua New Guinea…HARD   – John Burton

http://www.blogs-mri.org/?p=924

… The national government’s stubborn rejection of help from the international development agencies is comprehensible in terms not of technocratic failure, but of an international posture maintained by national leaders. This posturing rejects PNG’s image as a mendicant nation and insists that PNG should claim a place as a leader among the 24 Pacific Island countries and territories.

 

MSF Report Return to Abuser

https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/sites/usa/files/msf-pngreport-def-lr.pdf

In 2014 and 2015, some 3,056 people sought care for the first time in MSF-run Family Support Centres in the capital, Port Moresby, and in Tari, in the Highlands region. Their accounts provide important insights into the patterns of intimate partner violence, family violence and sexual violence in these areas. Their experiences suggest that large numbers of people are suffering grave physical and psychological wounds in the very place they should feel the safest – within their homes and families.

The overwhelming majority – 94 percent – of these patients were female. Most had been injured by their partners, family or community members, and in more than a quarter of all incidents involving intimate partners, the women had been threatened with death. Nearly all – 97 percent – of those patients had injuries that required treatment. Two in three had been attacked with weapons, including sticks, knives, machetes and blunt instruments. …..

See the full report at: http://www.msf.org/sites/msf.org/files/msf-pngreport-def-lr-2.pdf

 

Service delivery concerns

The National, Wednesday March 9th, 2016

THE Health Department admits it is struggling to deliver services to the people because of the financial situation it faces at the moment. Public Health executive manager Dr Subauk Vivaldo Bieb told The National on Monday that as public servants, health workers wanted to fulfil what the Government wanted but their hands had been tied because of the financial situation.

He said one example was the shortage of anti-malarial drugs that needed urgent response.

“We do have a desire, we do have plans in place and they are costly. We know we want to do that but we can’t because the resources that we have at our disposal to implement those is not enough.”

 

Dept reveals problems with anti-malaria drugs supply

The National, Wednesday March 9th, 2016

THE Health Department is facing difficulties in supplying anti-malarial drugs to health centres and clinics across the country, Deputy Secretary Dr Paison Dakulala says.  “Right now we have cut down all the other alternatives to work within our K3 million budget for the month of March to address the shortage of anti-malarial drugs,” he said. “In the meantime, we urge those health facilities with adequate supplies to continue to help those in critical need.”

 

Women seek islands of refuge in Papua New Guinea’s sea of violence

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/feb/29/papua-new-guinea-women-violence-at-home-refuge?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=4f61f76925-Devpolicy_News__March_11_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-4f61f76925-227683090

For women in Papua New Guinea, violence at home is horribly normal. Local charities are trying to provide shelters in the absence of government support

[See the url above]

While the government has passed new laws against family and sexual violence it has largely failed to enact or enforce any of them, and services are provided by NGOs, churches and grassroots organisations. Family, and the traditional welfare network of wantok, also play their parts.

Ume Wainetti, national coordinator of the family and sexual violence action committee, says the government is failing to follow through on commitments. “It’s either through ignorance or people are not prepared to use the law. Rape charges are very minimal,” she says. Family and sexual violence units attached to 14 police stations are proving effective but are resource-starved. The Lae unit has two officers and a commander, who on any given day face 30 to 40 women lodging a complaint or seeking interim protection orders against violent partners.

The City Mission also runs a halfway house for boys who have lived on the street or been in prison. Brown aims to teach them about respect for women while they are young. He estimates up to 500 young men are in the programme, and the majority of them grew up surrounded by abuse.

 

Immunisation drugs run out

The National, Wednesday March 16th, 2016

Madang has run out of immunisation drugs for babies. This has resulted in scores of babies being unprotected from early childhood diseases. Madang provincial health director Marcus Kachau said hospitals and clinics in Madang missed out on the drugs since the start of this year. Mothers, who brought their babies to the clinics to get immunised, were turned away on several occasions and were naturally worried. Dorris Joe said she was worried about her three-month-old infant because she was not immunised. “I was told there is no immunisation injection for babies because there is no supply, I don’t know how long I have wait,” Joe said.

Over 20 cases of sexual violence reported daily

Post Courier, March 09,2016,

BETWEEN 20 to 30 cases of physical and sexual violence against women, children and within the family is reported daily in Lae. The unit’s Officer In-Charge of the Lae Police Family and Sexual Violence unit Sergeant Ruth Murup said the unit is always on the lookout for opportunities to promote the message of stopping violence against women, children and even men, and for family homes to be safe. She said 20 to 30 cases of sexual and physical violence against women and children are reported to her unit or are passed onto them from other urban stations and from the Morobe provincial police headquarters. “When such cases are presented to us, we try our best to counsel, and if that does not work, we obtain an interim protection order for the women and her children or help the victims take the matter to court,” she said. Sergeant Murup said they have a good partnership with the Angau Hospital’s Family Support Centre and Courts in Lae, and are able to help victims obtain medical help and protection from the courts.

 

40,000 Family Sexual Violence (FSV) cases reported

Post Courier, March 09, 2016

Over 40,000 cases of Family and sexual violence cases have been reported since the initiation of the FSV Units in 2009. According to a report launched yesterday by deputy Australian High Commissioner, Bronte Moules, on the evaluation of the family and sexual violence units, six years on, 40, 000 survivors of domestic violence have received assistance. Many more have called in to use the phone counselling, however there are many others which are not reported or do not have access to these services. Deputy Police Commissioner Administration, Raphael Huafolo said the Constabulary recognises that family sexual violence is a serious concern in PNG. “For many years family sexual violence was seen as “normal” and an accepted part of PNG culture. Prior to the introduction of the RPNGC Family Sexual Violence Unit, many victims of family sexual violence were not served at police station counters because this was considered a “domestic problem”. However, with the introduction of FSVU and increasing awareness, a slow but gradual change in the mindset of policemen has been seen and an increase in reporting to the various services available for victims of family sexual violence including the police. For the RPNGC the Commissioner of Police issued a Police Circular 06/2007 in which all police officers must investigate all family violence reported and not turn them away. This policy document also gave the mandate to establish Family Sexual Violence Units within the RPNGC in 2009

 

Hold hubbies liable

Post Courier, March 08,2016, 10:00 am

HUSBANDS must equally be responsible and held liable for any deaths, violence and problems associated with polygamy. Simbu provincial police commander Supt Albert Beli said this yesterday after a woman was killed by another. The wilful murder took place on 24 Feb 2016 at about 10 am at Kagai village in Kamtai in the Sinasina-Yongumugl district of Simbu province. Supt Beli said the two women were married to the same man and had an ongoing feud typical of any polygamous families and marriages. Supt Beli said on that fateful day, the victim Bara Peter, aged 30, was stabbed in the neck and back shoulders with a kitchen knife by the other lady Marylyn Peter, aged 35.  Supt Beli Bara died instantly from loss of blood while there was no one around at the time to intervene and help too, adding that even the husband was away. Supt Beli said after stabbing her, Marylyn jumped onto a passing vehicle and surrendered to police in Kundiawa. Supt Beli said what infuriates him is that there have been many cases of wives of polygamous husbands fighting and killing each other. He said without any concern for the future of their children and their own, many mothers end up serving life terms in the jail just for that one moment of anger and jealousy with the opposing spouse of their husband. Supt Beli said while the other loses her life and the other spends her time in the jail, there is no point of allowing the husband to walk around scot-free and act as innocent as he is.

Supt Beli said it is said in the Bible and also in our country’s laws that man must marry only one wife.

 

Church partnership funds cut
Post Courier, March 23, 2016

NATIONAL Government funding to the Church Partnership Program has been reduced from K25 million to K10 million this year. The reduction in funding will impact on services provided by the mainline churches in Papua New Guinea but the National Planning Minister Charles Abel says the funding will be restored.

 

The Future of Papua New Guinea by Hayward Jones.

http://www.pngblogs.com/2016/03/the-future-of-papua-new-guinea-old.html?m=1

In 2015 Papua New Guinea celebrated 40 years of independence. The anniversary stimulated a great deal of public reflection on the nation’s progress to date and its future. For Papua New Guineans, there are reasons to be both optimistic and pessimistic about the next 40 years. …. [See the above url]

 

Diocese needs safe house for victims
Post Courier, Post Courier March 22,

THE victims of sorcery-related violence in Mendi, Southern Highlands Province, need a safe house for protection when recovering from trauma. Bishop Donald Lippert of Mendi Catholic diocese made the call in an email to Post-Courier this week. “It seems every week, there are other stories of sorcery-related violence and the issue is not going to go away by itself. Right now there is a great need for a safe house where the accused can go until the particular issue is resolved,” he said. “It is a criminal act in the eyes of international law, the law of PNG and the law of God. It is a national shame!” Bishop Lippert said. He said the first and most important solution was to stop the violence so that there are no victims, and this will take a multi sectoral approach involving the whole community. But especially important was the role of the law and justice sector. ….

 

Moody’s places PNG’s B1 government ratings on review for downgrade Global Credit Research

http://www.pngblogs.com/2016/03/moodys-placing-png-b1-government.html?m=1

Moody’s Investors Service (“Moody’s”) has placed the Government of Papua New Guinea’s (“PNG”) B1 local currency and foreign currency issuer ratings on review for downgrade.

The review for downgrade is driven by:

  1. The impact of the further fall in oil prices on government revenue, fiscal deficits and rising debt; and
  2. A likely structural shift to lower economic growth given the increasingly uncertain outlook for commodity-related investments.

GDP per capita (PPP basis, US$): 2,470 (2014 Actual) (also known as Per Capita Income)

Real GDP growth (% change): 13.3% (2014 Actual) (also known as GDP Growth)

Inflation Rate (CPI, % change Dec/Dec): 6.7% (2014 Actual)

Gen. Gov. Financial Balance/GDP: -8.3% (2014 Actual) (also known as Fiscal Balance)

Current Account Balance/GDP: 16.4% (2014 Actual) (also known as External Balance)

External debt/GDP: 110.1% (2014 Actual)

 

Safe water inaccessible to most in PNG: Study

The National, Wednesday March 23rd, 2016

PAPUA New Guinea, where 60 per cent of the population live without a safe water supply, has the poorest access to clean water in the world, according to a study released to mark World Water Day.
A report on the state of the world’s water showed Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Chad and Mozambique joining Papua New Guinea in the bottom five of a table ranking countries according to the percentage of households with access to clean water.  The report said 650 million people were living without an improved source of drinking water, which includes public taps, protected wells, rainwater or water The study also explored the high costs of water access, examining why the poorest communities often foot the largest bill.  “When there is no public access to clean water, people are forced to buy their water from street vendors which charge a premium.”

Papua New Guinea: Where Property Is More Expensive Than Manhattan

Source: http://thediplomat.com/2016/03/papua-new-guinea-where-property-is-more-expensive-than-manhattan/

…Office floor rentals and accommodation in Port Moresby are reportedly more expensive than their equivalents in Manhattan, with an average apartment going for a cool $1,300 per week. Many locals find themselves homeless in the city center, with rental prices hopelessly out of reach for persons earning the $45 minimum wage per week.

 

PNG’s mental health woes as Laloki struggles to make ends meet

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/03/pngs-mental-health-woes-as-laloki-struggles-to-make-ends-meet.html#more

IN EVERY Papua New Guinean town, you will find people who are mentally affected roaming the streets day in and day out. They seem to have no families or relatives or carers. They eat whatever’s been left in trash bins. There is no formal data collection system for mental disorders in PNG. …

The Laloki Psychiatric Hospital, which is the only long term psychiatric facility in the entire country, was established in 1967 as a mental health centre built to cater for 100 patients.

According to the hospital’s Dr Ludwig Nanawar, patient numbers have been increased greatly over the years. PNG’s mental health plan (2001-2010) had a goal to reduce the number of people suffering and dying as a result of mental illness through prevention of substance abuse, access to quality care and effective rehabilitation.

A number of goals were enunciated:

1.1 Improve mental health services available at provincial and district level

1.2 Review and update the Public Health Act (part 8) (Chapter No. 266)/Mental Health Act

1.3 Increase the number of staff and training positions and support training

1.4 Develop guidelines and material for in-service training

1.5 Develop and distribute a standard treatment manual

1.6 Establish and maintain psychiatric unites in all public hospitals and the four regional hospitals

1.7 Upgrade and maintain Laloki Mental Hospital

1.8 Secure and maintain adequate levels of medicines, equipment and other supplies

1.9 Secure and maintain inter sectorial collaboration in forensic psychiatry, domestic violence against women, and the control and prevention of substance abuses

1.10 Develop guidelines and materials for community awareness and education

1.11 Develop policy guidelines and promote support for community mental health and counseling services

1.12 Establish and maintain a monitoring and reporting system.

But these goals have not been fully met by the responsible authorities judging from what psychiatric professionals have told EMTV’s Olsem Wanem Program. The Laloki Psychiatric Hospital was allocated only K8 million for its 2016 recurrent budget. Is this enough money to run the only long-term psychiatric facility in the entire country? Infrastructure at Laloki is in dire need of maintenance and lack of patient space is a very crucial issue. Patients with mental disorders have to be kept separately as having more than one person in a room can be dangerous.

Laloki has more than one patient in a room and the safety is a risk. The staff cannot do much to ease this situation except monitor patients to make sure no harm is done.

 

Summary of assessments of food supply situation in Kandep Basin, Enga Province and Panduaga Valley, Hela Province

The Church Partnership Program (CPP) Food Security Assessment Team conducted an assessment of the food supply situation in a number of locations in three highland provinces in late March 2016. Visits were made to a number of communities in the Kandep Basin, including at Yapum Health Centre and Longap Village, as well as to Panduaga Village, north of Margarima, in Hela Province.

Findings: 1. There are widespread and severe food shortages across Kandep Basin and Panduaga Valley. Most people are surviving mainly on cabbage, supplemented by some ‘bush foods’ including watercress, wild beans, ferns, pandanus nuts, choko leaves and dried wild fruit.

  1. We heard of many reported cases of typhoid, pneumonia and diarrhoea. Sickness is reported to be caused by eating bush foods, lack of foods high in carbohydrate and protein, and lack of adequate hygiene.
  2. There has been widespread failure of sweet potato and potato crops. Crops were completely destroyed by a series of severe frosts in July 2015. Plantings made after the rains in November-December have failed, for unknown reasons, possibly associated with excessive soil nitrogen.
  3. There are almost no sweet potato or potato tubers in these areas. This was the case throughout the entire Kandep Basin and Panduaga Valley. We saw very small amounts of sweet potato in markets, and tubers were much smaller than usual. There is a shortage of planting material. Hence fast growing crops, including corn and beans, are not being planted. Because of the long growing period at these high altitude locations, maturity time for sweet potato is 9 to 10 months. Hence, there is unlikely to be significant supply of the staple food for another 9-10 months, even if plantings were made now.
  4. There is very little cash in these communities which can be used to purchase foods, including rice. There are no cash crops and even those food crops which can be grown successfully, such as cabbage, cannot be readily sold because of distance from markets.
  5. The CPP assessment team visited Panduaga Elementary School. Out of 140 students, only 80 were present. All 80 students were hungry, weak and dehydrated. All 80 students are living almost solely on cabbage and self-sown bush foods. Of the 80 students, 55 indicated that they did not have any food in their bags for lunch, but we have reasons to believe that this number was about 70 of the 80 in the school. The food that some of the students had for lunch consisted of a tiny handful of watercress, cabbage or other wild green leaves. There is no sweet potato or other carbohydrate foods available as a result of the frosts in mid-2015. ….

 

Figures provided by local pastors and councillors indicate that approximately 16,000 people are seriously affected in the locations we visited. However, there are other villagers in the very high altitude zone of these provinces who are also suffering extreme food shortages and famine. We have not assessed the total number of villagers who require food aid. A broader field and desk top assessment is required to gain an accurate estimation of the number of people who are suffering from severe food shortages in the very high altitude parts of Enga and Hela provinces.

Report prepared by James Komengi and Brendan Jinks. Email: kinukomengi@gmail.com

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Social Concerns Notes – February 2016

State slashes K50m from Christian Health Services budget
Post Courier, February 18, 2016

THE Government has slashed K50 million from the 2016 budget for Christian Health Services, its major partner in the delivery of health services. This was confirmed yesterday by the CHS chairman White Kintak and chief executive officer Joseph Sika. They said the cut was affecting different CHS health facilities, including its 12 district hospitals. “CHS provides 798 health facilities, of which 12 are district hospitals. This is about 47 per cent of the country’s health services,” Mr Sika said.

He said the CHS has submitted a budget of K167 million but the Government had given K98 million.

He said the K167 million budget was based on a study conducted by a technical mission funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. CHS has 4000 workers, including 375 new positions that were created last year following the study by the technical mission.

Mr Kintak said the budget cut of K50 million has put CHS in a difficult situation and is affecting all areas of service delivery. In relation to yesterday’s news on Kudjip Nazarene Hospital’s plan to increase its hospital fees, he said this is a result of the budget cut to the CHS which is affecting this hospital as well as all other CHS hospitals.

 

More Calls To Expedite Strategy Against Violence in PNG

http://www.onepng.com/2016/01/more-calls-to-expedite-strategy-against.html, January 31, 2016

In light of the alarming rate of abused women in Papua New Guinea, Senior Constable, Juliana Epe from the Royal PNG Constabulary, has rallied behind calls for government to expedite the country’s Gender Based Violence Strategy to address and quell violence-related crimes. … The rate of cases dealt with by the Boroko Family and Sexual Violence Unitd (FSVU) in 2009 has increased dramatically from between 1 to 5 cases of female victims per day, to figures between 20 to 35 cases being processed by the Unit on a daily basis, at present. “This is a big problem in Papua New Guinea, but it needs more than government intervention, it needs the police force working with community to address the implications of violence.

 

Update on impact of drought in PNG on food supply, early February 2016

Some selections from report by Mike Bourke

Western Province

Olsobip area. There have been reports that food remains scarce in the Olsobip area, with possibly the situation worse in Selbang and other more remote locations in the east. Some food has been transported by air to trade stores at Olsobip Station. These are commercial deliveries, not food aid.

Highland fringe locations

Southwest Southern Highlands Province. Villagers who live in SHP between Mt Bosavi and Mt Sisa (South of Komo; west of Lake Kutubu) – There have been some reports that they are suffering from food shortages similar to those of people to the west in Western Province.

Gumine, Salt and Nomane LLGs, south Simbu Province. A number of observers, including Mathias Kin in Kundiawa and staff of CARE PNG reported serious food shortages in these three LLG areas in the south of Simbu Province and less serious issues in areas immediately to the north.

Very high altitude locations in Enga, Hela, Southern Highlands and Western Highlands

It was estimated that an estimated 410,000 people at very high altitude locations in Kandep and other districts in Enga and nearby locations in parts of Hela, Southern Highlands and Western Highlands provinces were affected by severe and repeated frosts in July-August 2015. The frosts destroyed most food crops, including the staple food sweet potato. This has been further compounded in places by wild fire damage to property and fallow vegetation. There are indications that some people are suffering from lack of food, as well as loss of property. However, many villagers in the very high altitude locations seem to have coped with the loss of gardens, possibly because of improved transport links, cash remittances and some food aid.

Small islands in Milne Bay Province

The Milne Bay provincial authorities’ assessment in October 2015 indicated that 18,700 villagers on 31 islands were suffering from severe food shortages. The Provincial Disaster Coordinator (Steven Tobessa) and colleagues organized for food and water to be delivered to these islands in December 2015, using funds allocated for rebuilding after cyclone damage in 2014. They advise that the food would last until February when further assessments would be conducted.

 

El Niño takes its toll on PNG’s agricultural output

Post Courier, 16 February 2016

EFFORTS to promote agricultural self-sufficiency in Papua New Guinea saw a setback in 2015, with sector growth affected by severe drought conditions triggered by the El Niño weather pattern.

The drought is also likely to impact PNG’s agri-business sector, disrupting supplies of produce for processing and hitting the country’s key agricultural export – coffee. According to World Bank estimates, PNG accounts for 1% of global coffee production. Floods in early 2015 damaged some coffee plantations in the Highland region, while the subsequent drought is expected to take its toll on the upcoming harvest. Supply chains have borne the brunt of the drought, as water levels in many of the country’s larger rivers are now too low to transport produce or other goods. In late January the prime minister announced plans to hold consultations with farmers, wholesalers and retailers on improving supply chains. According to O’Neill, airfreight is being considered to ship produce from remote regions, such as the fertile Highlands.

 

Most refugees are West Papuans: Pato

The National, Thursday February 11th, 2016

MINISTER for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Rimbink Pato says more than 90 per cent of refugees in the country are from West Papua. “Under the National Refugee Policy, we have helped more than 1100 West Papuans to apply for PNG citizenship and will help thousands more in 2016,” Pato said. “In comparison, only a few hundred non-Melanesian refugees are likely to settle in PNG.
“Many of them have skills that are needed by PNG businesses allowing them to stay and work and strengthen our nation’s economy and development.” He thanked the people for their support in the national refugee policy. “As Melanesians and Christians, we have strong traditions of helping people in need,” he said.  “Refugees fled war, persecution and torture to be able to survive in peace and safety – the Govenment is happy to offer them this opportunity. “Refugees must work to support themselves. They will receive support to establish themselves but will not be given long-term housing or other special treatment. “Some have already started working and are successfully and independently rebuilding their lives.”

 

Pato: 515 on Manus

The National, Wednesday February 10th, 2016

MINISTER for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Rimbink Pato says 515 asylum seekers on Manus have had their refugee status determined under the Regional Resettlement Arrangements.
He confirmed that 472 “have been determined to be refugees and are free to depart from the processing centre and commence settling in PNG”.  He said 61 had already left the centre to undergo training to prepare for life in PNG.  Six have left Manus and were believed to be living and working in Lae. “Many of these refugees have skills which are in short supply in PNG and are needed by employers to grow our economy,” Pato said. “They will be provided some short-term support to establish themselves in locations where they can obtain jobs, including Lae and Port Moresby. We expect to finish refugee status assessments for the remaining asylum seekers by the end of March.”
He said those who received a negative assessment were entitled to apply for an independent review.
“I expect these to be finalised by the end of June,” he said. “Those people who are not refugees will be required to go home. They can either be assisted to return voluntarily or else they will be deported.”

 

Human trafficking in Papua New Guinea – small but significant progress

Source: http://devpolicy.org/in-brief/human-trafficking-in-papua-new-guinea-small-but-significant-progress-20160204/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=82c8ca882d-Devpolicy_News__Feb_15_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-82c8ca882d-227683090.   February 4, 2016

Papua New Guinea had made some progress in addressing human trafficking, moving up a level from the worst-performing group of countries in the U.S. Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report. In the 2015 update of the report, released at the end of last year, Papua New Guinea moved from Tier 3, the group of countries deemed not to be making any effort to address trafficking, to Tier 2 (watch list). PNG has been listed as a Tier 3 country since the 2008 report, so this change reflects small but significant progress.

Some of the positive improvements in PNG outlined in the report have included the tightening of laws and policies regulating human trafficking. The government’s recent Criminal Code Amendment made in 2013 prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment for trafficking of adult labour and sex, and 25 years for cases involving children. The code also established a new anti-trafficking training program for front-line officers and judiciaries. There have also been improvements in law enforcement in PNG to match the tightened policies.

 

The (soft) power and the passion: challenges to anti-corruption activism in PNG

By Grant Walton on February 19, 2016 http://devpolicy.org/the-soft-power-and-the-passion-challenges-to-anti-corruption-activism-in-png-20160219/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=e101718491-Devpolicy_News__Feb_26_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-e101718491-227683090

Papua New Guinea has a long history of anti-corruption activism. The churches, unions, landowner groups, students as well as local and international NGOs have all been involved in fighting abuses of power. And there has been some success. In 1997, concerns about corruption fuelled protest towards the government’s attempt to bring in mercenaries to fight the civil war in Bougainville, which became known as the Sandline Affair. This led to the resignation of the then prime minister Sir Julius Chan. In 2005 a Community Coalition Against Corruption (including NGOs like Transparency International PNG and the churches) helped scupper two parliamentary bills aimed at reducing the power of the Ombudsman Commission and increasing Members of Parliament’s constituency funds. They collected tens of thousands of signatures, which were presented to parliament. (This only temporarily stopped the rise of discretionary funding as these funds have grown exponentially since 2013).

The propensity for citizens to resist corruption should have increased since these success stories, as access to the internet has spread throughout the country. Citizens are now better informed about alleged corruption than ever before. However, questions remain about the willingness of citizens to en masse protest the country’s many corruption scandals. The state of PNG sometimes expresses its growing power through threat and violence. Anti-corruption activists are threatened by the police, have had their protests forcibly broken up, and have been assaulted. Yet there are signs that it is the state’s soft power that is even more effective in quelling dissent. PNG has a history of activists running for political office, and getting into power can significantly disrupt their movements. This occurred after the Sandline Affair when those associated with civil society organisations protesting against the government got into power.

PNG’s anti-corruption activists are connected to the state in various ways, which reduces their legitimacy in the eyes of some. In turn, their perceived politicisation reduces the potential for broader protest movements. The key threat to these movements is not the state’s hard power, but its soft power, expressed through the lure of political office.

 

Import ban shows positive impact

The National, Wednesday February 3rd, 2016

THE ban on imported vegetables last August had a positive impact on the people, especially those living in rural areas who survive on agriculture activities. Toppy Sundu, programme coordinator of Individual Reform and Restoration Movement Inc  (IRRM), a community based organisation located at Womkama village in Gembogl district of Chimbu, said the Minister for Agriculture and Livestock had made a landmark decision, given that majority of the country’s population rely on agriculture.
Sundu said during the period of the ban, they have carried out a case study for Gembogl bulb onion farmers through  interview leaders’ comments and recommendations in general informal meetings and physical development which indicated that:

  • RRM have built 21 of 100 house using income from their bulb onion produce;
  • parents have money to clothe and pay for their children’s school fees and also pay for their medical fees: and,
  • Youth’s habit of drug consumption, home brewing, stealing, road blocks and other social disorder in the community have been substituted for vegetables farming.

“The decision on the ban has unfolded a new sense of direction and focus for rural farmers to actively participate in improving their life style and at the same time contribute towards nation building,” Sundu said.

Mob kills family over ‘sorcery’

The National, Friday February 5th, 2016

A STUDENT and his immediate family were killed at a village in Chimbu last weekend after they were accused of sorcery, police say. Provincial police commander Supt Albert Beli said student Wemin Peter, his brother, father and mother were chopped to death by family members of a man who died in Lae. Two other relatives of the family were also attacked but were unaccounted for.
Beli said he had sent a police unit from Gumine into the area to investigate the killings. According to a source who requested that his identify be protected, the Mul Primary School Grade Seven student and his family were killed on allegations of using sorcery to kill a man. The source said the man died after drowning in the Bumbu River. Police Commander Beli condemned the killings. “Suspecting someone of sorcery does not give anyone the right to take someone else’s life away.”

 

Missionary Sisters serving in Africa
Post Courier, February 08, 2016

THREE Papua New Guinea Catholic missionaries working in Africa say it is a challenge working away from one’s home country, but it is about making known the love of Christ. Sister Pauline Dilou, originally from Milne Bay Province, and colleagues Sister Mary Robu, from East New Britain, and Sister Philemona Ani’isa, from Central Province, work in different parts of the African continent. Between them, they speak French and Portuguese as well as English and Tok Pisin. They say that being a missionary is not easy, especially in the initial years, but it is all about making known the love of Christ. For them, it is also about sharing the heart of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, the order that they belong to as nuns. Currently they are in the country on holidays; Sr Pauline returns to Cameroon next month where she had been for three years, working as an assistant at the formation house which trains young girls life skills. Previously, she worked for six years in South Africa with women and children, including those living with HIV and AIDS. Sr Mary Robu is returning on Wednesday to Angola where she had been working for 11 years and love the people and the country. She arrived in Angola in 2005 soon, after it gained independence so she worked in a refugee camp, and then with street children and young people which was tough. Now, she is helping run a program for orphans aged between four and 15 years. The third nun, Sr Philemona Ani’isa, had recently returned after working for six years in Sudan where it had not be easy; the country had long years of civil war and is rebuilding but it is still often tense, but she loves the people. “Sudan is still at war but I love my people,’’ says Sr Philemona. “I told my superiors that I’m open, if they want me to go back I will go back.’’ The three are trained nurses, but often respond to calls out of their profession as the need arises.

 

How the Yuri found an answer to destructive tribal warfare

JOE KUMAN http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/02/how-the-yuri-found-an-answer-to-destructive-tribal-warfare.html#more

AFTER more than 40 years of disintegration and acrimony due to warfare among the clans of one of the biggest tribes in Simbu Province, tribal members had to try to change the course of events.

The world had changed rapidly and people were no longer to be enslaved to primitive ways, as in fighting each other over trivial and preventable causes that escalated into lost lives, destroyed property and migration to distant land. The Yuri tribe of Simbu engaged in 10 years of war from the mid-1970s over a mosquito bite that had occurred in Kimbe in West New Britain Province. Another clash broke out over the theft of an egg and resulted in dozens of deaths on both sides. A major was between the Golin and Yuri tribes had its cause in the non-repayment of pork meat given to a Yuri man by a Golin man during a pig killing ceremony. The Ela Nauri fight broke out over a fallen branch of a pandanus tree when a Yuri man imitated an Ela Nauri man lamenting the fallen branch. Such insignificant and somewhat comical causes of tribal fights happen not only in Yuri but all over Simbu. But most often people use national elections as an excuse to fight each other every five years.

On 22 December 2012, there was a milestone meeting of youth, elites and prominent citizens of the tribe at Mingende Pastoral Centre. As the issues were addressed, many people burst into tears especially those who could no longer could not speak in their original mother tongue. Some of them were born, raised and educated in far-off terra firma. …

The movement gained support from like-minded tribal members as well as a neighbouring tribe and it was registered as an association with the PNG Investment Promotion Authority under the name of Yuri Alaiku Kuikane Association (YAKA Inc). It is neither a political nor a religious movement but a body established to ensure that the people of Yuri are one cohesive and united people worki.ng towards building peace and development to be equal with other communities throughout the world.

More information about YAKA can be accessed in its Facebook page Yuri Alaiku Kuikane Association or contact YAKA Admin on email yaka.association.inc@gmail.com

 

PNG urged to use safe chemical gases
Post Courier, February 10, 2016

PAPUA New Guinea is buying, selling and using cheap refrigerants, a workshop on the environment has been told in Port Moresby. Refrigerants are chemical gases used in a cooling mechanism, such as an air conditioner or refrigerator, as the heat carrier which changes from gas to liquid and back to gas in the refrigeration cycle. Industries should think seriously about the long-term and environmentally friendly technologies, not cheap, low quality stuff, says Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) senior project manager Neeta Sharma. She said the Government must do more awareness to get rid of the ozone depleting substances (ODS) and provide proper equipment and training for users seeing that the current chlorodifluoromethane (HCFCs) used in PNG. “The chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs – the R11, R12, R500 and R502) play a similar role but have caused more harm to the ozone layer hence it was phased out in 2010. “HCFCs are harmful but they need to be handled by qualified people in order for a wise use. In 2050, all HCFCs will be phased out,” Ms Sharma said. She said that will leave the importing industries and users to use only the HCFs, which is also known as the natural and environmentally friendly refrigerants. Ms Sharma said. She congratulated the PNG Customs Service for working hard to confiscate several banned ODS coming into PNG.

 

Insects destroying gardens

The National, Wednesday February 10th, 2016

THE drought situation in the Trobriand Islands has been delivered another blow – insects destroying food gardens. Kiriwina-Goodenough MP Douglas Tomuriesa said insects had invaded gardens and destroyed the remaining crop which survived the drought. He said the invasion of insects was severe as it could worsen the suffering of the people. He said just as humans were affected by a shortage of food, the insects were feeding on plants like never before.  “While we are trying to fix one problem, another one arises. And this is not helping our efforts at all,” Tomuriesa said.
“Right now, I am not sure where to focus my attention on or to divert funding towards – toward the drought or to fight the insects.” The El Nino has affected all the food gardens in the islands.

 

Tari secondary shut
Post Courier, February 10, 2016

TWO weeks into the school year and about 1000 plus students at the Catholic Church run Tari secondary school in the Hela province are still not in classes. The school has been forced to close for an indefinite period after the Hela provincial education board (PEB) without ‘consulting’ the school selected 572 grade nines and sent them to the school. Deputy principal (administration) Sr Jasmine George said the school has five classrooms and can only accommodate 275 grade nine students which is 50-55 students per class. Sr George said the Hela PEB is forcing the school to enroll the 572 students which would mean that the school would take an unrealistic 13 classes of grade nines which the school simply does not have the capacity to do so. “Unless the Hela PEB re-select and send us 275 grade nine students, we would not be able to resume classes,” Sr George said. Catholic Bishop of Mendi Donald Lippert said it is a failure of communication between the Hela PEB and the Catholic education agency. “We want the best for the students and we cannot take in the 600 students the Hela PEB has selected. “The school does not have the capacity, classrooms and teachers to take in this number of students. “We want to work in partnership with Hela PEB for the benefit of our children and we hope the PEB re-select and send us 275 students so that we begin classes.

 

Basil: Drugs & human trafficking real
Post Courier, February 15, 2016

The Deputy Opposition Leader Sam Basil, has called on the National Government to wake up to the threats of illegal and illicit drug trading, money laundering and human trafficking. Consumption of liquor, illegal brews and drugs such as marijuana and other illicit drugs has attributed to many crimes committed in PNG. PNG’s own law enforcement agencies including our very own National Narcotics Control Bureau (NNCB) lacks capacity including government’s support and control to combat those illegal activities which is getting out of control, Mr Basil said.

 

TFF policy increases school enrolments
Post Courier, February 18, 2016

SCHOOL enrolments have increased sharply since 2011 because of the introduction of tuition fee free policy. The net enrolments during 2011-2014 increased by 68 per cent in Grade Eight and Grade Nine and by 45 per cent in Grade 10 and Grade 11. These are figures that were shared at the leaders’ summit yesterday by the education sector. Acting Education Secretary Dr Uke Kombra says there has been a huge bridge in gender parity, meaning more girls were enrolling in schools and doing academically well since 2011. He said there has been a growth in the number of schools – 11,224 schools, about 52,832 teachers and two million students. Praising the Government’s policy that is intended to give every school-aged child an education opportunity, Dr Kombra admitted there are pressures that come with it. This is especially the bottlenecks at Grade Eight, Grade 10 transitions and the annual exit of Grade 12 students. Dr Kombra said that inspectors have the right to suspend school directors or teachers if they are found to have misused funds. Also such matters should be investigated by the police. But the secretary said that this year the Government has introduced the single integrated tuition fee free policy transparency and accountability of school funds.

 

TFF not helping’
Post Courier, February 17, 2016

THE Catholic Professionals Society says it is concerned about the Government’s apparent chaotic handling of the education system. The society is calling on a public meeting to deliberate at the St Joseph School hall in Port Moresby to voice concerns about tuition fees. The Catholic Church with 20 education agency services is the largest education service provider in PNG. They own and manage about 20 per cent of all education services with 3165 schools (elementary, primary, secondary, tertiary, technical and vocational) providing for about 379,863 students. Society president Paul Herricknen said in a statement yesterday that the Government has not consulted the church and its agencies on the education reforms relating to curriculum and the much-politicised free education policy. The church and its agency schools have been undermined, and treated with contempt considering the fact that the Catholic Church is a major education service provider, he said.

There have been constant changes to the education policies from outcomes based education to standard based education. Mr Herricknen said that doing away with grades eights and grade ten (10) national examinations, over-enrolments in schools, lack of qualified teachers, equipment, resources and infrastructure are serious concerns. “The much-publicised tuition fee free policy seems more a political gimmick than a serious free education policy. There is no free education. “The Government has no money to fund its free education policy. School fees are continued in the guise of project fees.

“We call on the Government not to play politics with essential services like education and health.

“We also call on the Government to engage the church agencies as equal partners for the education of our people,” he said.

 

Progress not widespread

The National, Thursday February 18th, 2016

THE progress on human development for Papua New Guinea is not widespread, United Nations Development Programme’s resident representative Roy Trivedy says. He told the Leaders’ Summit yesterday that PNG failed to achieve any of its Millennium Development Goals (MDG). “We make leaps ahead and we fall back and it is liable to slip back unless we give the same amount of attention that we give to building infrastructure into building the human capital,” Trivedy said. “We did not meet any of the Millennium Development Goals. Despite that there are phenomenal levels of growth.”
Trivedy said universal primary education was beginning to transform the country but more children needed to be in schools. He added PNG had reduced its child mortality rate.
In 1990, there were 89 children under the age of five dying out of every 1000. By 2013 this was reduced to 61, he said. “We have 36 per cent of our population who are below the poverty line and we need to address that together,” Trivedy said. “We need to do better and keep improving. This is an indication that there is progress that we need to build on. “With human development index, PNG wants to be in the top 50 and we have our aspirations.  “There are basically three key dimensions of human development, health education and living standards none of that can be achieved without better institutions.”

 

Many face injustice: Bishop

The National, Thursday February 18th, 2016

INJUSTICE is a vital development issue for Papua New Guinea, chairman of Papua New Guinea Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV and AIDS John Ribat says. “The negative effects which are evident in the lives of our people at different levels on a daily basis, the ongoing practice of injustice overtime has created a culture of its own that those who practice injustice cannot feel guilty and reason that the acts of injustice are wrong,” Ribat said in a statement. “Injustice directly denies and deprives people who are the intended beneficiaries of the country’s development plans as envisaged in Vision 2050.” He said injustice was the opposite of justice for the people in their plight to access legal and social justice as well as to basic goods and services.
He said injustice happened when:

  • people were not having equal and fair access to basic goods and services which they are supposed to access in their respective wards, districts and provinces;
  • mothers in rural areas in PNG continued to die of birth complications due to lack of proper health facilities;
  • men, women and children suffered and die due to late arrival of food and medical supplies as a result of disaster such as El Nino;
  • people were not given equal and fair opportunity to improve their socio-economic status;
  • women and girls who had were raped and sexually abused continued to face delay in justice by enlaw enforcing agencies serve justice to perpetrators; and
  • people living with HIV, sex workers and people with diverse sexual orientation continue to face stigma, discrimination and sexual abuse and when they are denied access to social and legal justice.

He urged PNG to lift its show.

 

PM O’Neill halts death penalty law
Post Courier, February 22, 2016

JUSTICE Secretary Lawrence Kalinoe confirmed that the regulations and procedures for the execution process to fully implement the death penalty have been completed and ready for Cabinet. However, he said the death penalty law has been put on hold as instructed by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for an indefinite period. “The paper is complete and ready but I have been instructed to put it on hold,” he said. “Once we hear again from the Prime Minister we can give you another update,” he added. There are now 13 death row inmates who were sentenced to life imprisonment.

 

Schools in doubt: Bishop

The National, Monday February 22nd, 2016

THE future of three large boarding institutions in Kairuku-Hiri district, Central is in doubt due to lack of funding, Bishop Rochus Tatamai of Bereina says. An analysis of the tuition fee-free payments revealed that in secondary, primary and elementary schools, about 25 per cent of schools missed out on the TFF. Schools which received the TFF only got around 10 per cent based on the NEC fee limits for 2016 – not the 50 per cent first payment promised by the Education Minister.
From the TFF:

  • Mainohana Secondary (Bereina) with 539 students received K92,984;
  • Sacred Heart High School in Tapini Goilala with 279 students had received K34,584; and,
  • St Peters’ Vocational (Mainohana-TVET) with 152 students received K594.

The diocese of the Bereina Catholic Education Agency administers 108 operating schools – one secondary school, one high school, one vocational school, 52 primary and community schools and 53 elementary schools. They also administer 15 community schools in Goilala and two elementary schools on the coast which are currently suspended.
“We have been advised by the TFF secretariat with the Department of Education that schools received a shortfall in the first TFF payment due to a shortfall in funding received from the Treasury.”

 

Cursed Generation: People along Angabanga river doomed to chemical poisoning

Post Courier, February 23, 2016

A cursed generation is how pathologist Dr Sylvester Kotapu describes the fate of the people living along the length of the Angabanga River in the Kairuku-Hiri district of Central Province. “The physical derangement of the environment, we don’t need an expert opinion on this. You go there, you’ll see: the chaotic flooding because of the buildup of sediments, the loss of food crops. “But what’s more specific affecting the people there is the chemical poisoning coming about because of practice of a tailings management which is unlawfully deemed in the world,” he says. Dr Kotapu had been commissioned by the Central Provincial Government in 2007 to carry out a study on the communities along the river. He has released his report which was to identify the cause of peculiar diseases being reported by Veifa and Bereina health centres. Dr Kotapu’s finding was in par with other preceding studies which reported high levels of mine-related chemicals in the river system, biota and bloodstream of people. It was concluded with the understanding that these groups of people have been exposed to very dangerous toxic chemicals believed to be discharged from mining activities upstream.

“From there we realised that high chemicals of mercury and lead and all that, was affecting the people.

“In one or two of the post-mortems that I’ve done, the brains, lungs, kidney, everywhere are full of these chemicals,” he said. He said this was the result of riverine tailings disposal (RTD) practised by Tolukuma Gold Mine, located at the Angabanga river head, in Goilala district of Central Province.

RDT had been outlawed worldwide because it is considered environmentally unfriendly and socially irresponsible. Dr Kotapu’s report said the decision by the previous owners since productions in 1996 has cursed the generations of Goilala, Mekeo and Kuni villages forever. “Our people are actually cursed for life because of the fact that genes transfer from one to another by way of egg and sperm, the genes transfer. “If there is a mix-up in the father, I’m passing through to the next so it shows out in the way of expressing whatever chemicals – this is cross-generational inheritance,” Dr Kotapu said.

 

Dare to dream, but in PNG dreaming’s not enough

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/02/dare-to-dream-but-in-png-dreamings-not-enough.html#more. By Dulciana Somare-Brash. Pacific Institute of Public Policy

THERE are many people commenting online on the impacts of decisions taken by the current Papua New Guinea government. Many express their feelings about a looming fiscal crisis, these range from fury to indifference. In the haste for change, once again it is easy to assume that a new crop of freshly elected leaders in a newly constituted PNG parliament after 2017 will miraculously create the change PNG needs! We must not forget that the same laws will apply in the same national parliament and provincial houses of assembly. In the same national and district courtrooms, case law will grow and precedents will continue to be set in the absence of the hard questions that may never get asked about the blatant breaches in our society and adopted system of government….

For the rest of this article, see the url above.

 

Tough times take its toll

Post Courier, February 24,2016

THE downturn in global commodity prices is putting more pressure on Government cash flow and starting to impact on local Papua New Guinean businesses. The Government yesterday announced the abolishing of the National Cultural Commission and the transfer of its functions to the National Museum and Art Gallery, with the Tourism Minister Justin Tkatchenko indicating that the decision to abolish the commission was made before he took over the portfolio last month. The demise of the entity charged with the responsibility to protect and nurture PNG’s diverse cultures coincides with reports that the country’s oldest locally owned insurance firm – Kwila Insurance Corporation Limited – will close its doors next month after it pays out all its policy holders. “Yes it is in a runoff mode, meaning pay out all the policies and stop operating as a life insurance company. They are not accepting new policies now,” said an official in the financial sector, who spoke on condition of anonymity. In Alotau another company that was established in 1975, Nawae Construction, began laying off workers yesterday with the management advising that the immediate outlook for the company was not viable. It is understood the marine and civil engineering company advised the Milne Bay Provincial Government and the Department of Labour office in Alotau of its decision.

In Madang the Steamships Trading Company (STC) has put its Coastwatchers Hotel on the market and invited expressions of interest for the 32-room hotel, which is located opposite Madang’s iconic Kalibobo lighthouse. “Now with the current economic slowdown, the private and public sector are reducing travel at least to the provinces and I would say that most hotels in PNG – in the provinces – have between 10 to 40 per cent occupancy, which has placed many in a situation they are no longer viable enterprise,” he added.

 

So is PNG Broke?

http://www.pngblogs.com/2016/02/so-is-png-broke.html?m=1 Wednesday, February 24, 2016

by Bryan Kramer
The short answer is, Yes.. … For the rest of this article, see the url above.

 

The Great Timber Heist

For an interesting article on the Timber Industry in PNG, see the following url

http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/great-timber-heist-logging-industry-papua-new-guinea

Although PNG supposedly enjoys the most equal distribution of land on earth and is governed by a constitution that protects people’s customary land rights and the environment, it has become a major target for international logging operators who are facing growing resistance and scarcity of timber resources in other countries. As documented in the Oakland Institute’s report and film On Our Land, logging in PNG obscures a multilayered tragedy of the betrayal of people’s constitutional protections and the loss of cultural heritage and land for millions of Papua New Guineans. All over the country, local communities are being deprived of their resources and their rights while their government turns a blind eye to the deceptive practices of the forest industry and police forces that often work on behalf of logging companies.The industry and its proponents argue that logging contributes to the development of the country—pointing to tax revenues the government receives on log exports. However, our research uncovers disturbing facts surrounding the practices and finances of the logging industry in PNG. This new information raises important questions about benefits to the national economy, given figures that suggest rampant tax evasion and financial misreporting in the sector.

 

Cult practice sees 100 suspended over cult activities

The National, Friday February 26th, 2016

MORE than 100 students at a school in West Sepik have been sent home after being allegedly involved in cult practices, police say. Aitape police station officer Kelly Vavena told The National that the students who attended the St Ignatius Secondary School were sent home last week.
They have been told to return to school with their parents or guardians when the board of governors’ disciplinary committee next sits. The board suspended the students after they were identified as members of the Faul Pes Congregation (FPC), a group which reportedly practised cult activities, which oppose school rules.

Address growing school leavers problem, institute says

The National, Thursday February 25th, 2016

THE Government must seriously address the increasing number of school leavers if it is to achieve Vision 2050, director of the Asia Pacific Institute of Applied Social Economic and Technical Studies Thomas Pillar says. “The Papua New Guinea education system has almost 26,000 schools leavers,” he said. “But the college and universities in Papua New Guinea can only cater 4000 to 5000 school leavers. “It leaves 21,000 to 22,000 students coming out of schools in the streets.” “If this country is serious about addressing the 2050 Vision, they better start looking at the school leavers seriously because this lot will pull the country down,” he said. “Because they will be without any formal education, they won’t find good jobs and they won’t be able to look after themselves. “So they will be out trying to survive.

Youths clean up

Post Courier, February 25, 2016

MANY unemployed are rejected in their respective communities and are roaming around doing nothing looking for opportunities for their survival. Therefore they involved in illegal activities to consume marijuana and home brew, while some of them claim themselves as street crews campaign for passengers for the PMV bus to earn some income. But this is a different story for some youths living along the Banks of River Mombol near Banz Town, Jiwaka Province.The youths felt that they were some of the rejected ones in their respective communities and have no hope for their living and were finding very difficult for their lives. Despite they came together with an idea to clean the filthy hub near River Mombol which the public used to dump their waste and also most of the young girls feared going there because some young men take advantage of the thick bushes and hide there and rape them. But these youths came together and contributed ideas that Jiwaka was a new province that needs tangible developments to take place to benefit the people so they decided to clear the filthy area without any resource. They started the River Mombol cleanathon program last year during the dry spell period to cut down the long shrubs, collected the rubbish dumped into the river.

Now young girls and mothers are feeling free to go to the river to fetch and wash clothes.

The youths are doing good a very wonderful and tremendous work to benefit the public so some people gave them coins after washing their vehicles and using the river, while those that don’t have money help the youths to carry stones for recreational. They also built a public toilet and collected money from the people and this money they used to set up a trade store to mini theatre and trade store that will benefit them in the long run. Speaking on their behalf John Brus and Tobias Humar admitted they spent most of the time consuming illegal home brew and marijuana but they did not realize that danger was waiting for them. Mr Brus said despite associating with illegal activities they contributed ideas to change their attitude and but there was no other alternative so they decided to do that in a small way. He said this was the foundation, adding that they would not give up because there were no other options so they would continue further.

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Social Concerns Notes – January 2016

Claims of police abuse will be dealt with

Post Courier, December 30, 2015

FIVE hundred police officers have been served with serious disciplinary offence charges between 2007 and 2013. All have been dismissed from the force, police chief of operations Jim Andrews said yesterday, amid growing complaints of police brutality. More than 1700 disciplinary cases were investigated in this same period and 350 of these cases were dismissed due to lack of evidence.

As a result of these investigations and type of evidence collected, 240 members of the constabulary were demoted. Mr Andrews said 700 of these cases were classified as minor disciplinary offences which attracted fines against police personnel who were implicated. “The figures were contained in a report submitted to this office by the constabulary’s internal affairs directorate.” All allegations of police abuses, including those reported and sensationalised through social media, have and will be thoroughly investigated and officers implicated will be dealt with, revealed the police chief of operations.

 

Turi: 39 city cops suspended

The National, Monday January 4th, 2016

THIRTY-nine police officers facing 89 charges have been suspended in the past three months, National Capital District Police Metropolitan Superintendent Benjamin Turi says.  “We have a problem with police brutality in the force. All police brutality cases are taken care of,” he said.

“So far, 39 police officers are suspended and face 89 charges altogether. Those two who were arrested and charged last Thursday (for sex-related charges) make it 41. So results are coming out.

“One will be served his dismissal in the first week of this month and the other will be served afterwards. “The disciplinary charges are the same as a court fine.  “We have to go through each thoroughly, checking the law so that when they are dismissed and charged, they shouldn’t come back.”

 

‘Corruption is at all levels’

The National, Monday January 4th, 2016

Deputy Prime Minister Leo Dion warned that corruption was deep-rooted in all levels of Papua New Guinea society and would undermine efforts of future generations. In his New Year’s message, Dion said the biggest challenge facing the country was corruption. “Despite the commendable efforts by our law enforcement agencies, corruption is a cross-cutting issue that requires a consolidated effort from all sectors of the community, including ordinary citizens who are the ultimate beneficiaries of goods and services,” he said. “It is even more concerning that today, corruption is much more evident and systematic than ever before. “This trend is being propagated by greed through corrupt means and envy for greater power and authority. “Today institutions of governance are allegedly being used by outside forces to collude with custodians of these institutions who are entrusted as public servants to legitimise corruption through decisions of convenience riddled with bias and conflict of interests.”

 

Commonwealth report on 2012 election

http://www.pngblogs.com/2015/12/commonwealth-report-on-2012-election.html

As Papua New Guinea heads into the 2017 elections, it is timely to read the report by the Commonwealth Observer Group on the 2012 national elections (url above).  It gives citizens an idea of what to expect in 18 months. The Group that visited PNG at the time slammed the conduct of the 2012 national elections, saying “serious concerns need to be addressed for the future.”

The Group chairman, Hon Nipake Edward Natapei, MP, of Vanuatu, reported that “significant challenges remain to achieve the efficient and effective management of elections to ensure maximum franchise for citizens, appropriate and consistent electoral practices for the exercise of that franchise, and a strong culture of democracy throughout the country.”

For report, see, http://thecommonwealth.org/sites/default/files/news-items/documents/COGPNG2012Final.pdf

 

Policewoman arrested . . . for forcing a young woman to swallow condoms

Post Courier, January 11, 2016

A POLICEWOMAN is behind bars for her part in a video showing police officers forcing a young woman to swallow condoms. Constable Jacklyn Tanda has been charged with deprivation of liberty and abuse of office after the victim, Evangeline Aitsi, 21, from Kairuku, Central Province, identified her on Saturday. Police Commissioner Gari Baki said two male officers were also identified but one escaped to Nipa, Southern Highlands, but he will be brought to Port Moresby to face charges. Mr Baki said at a news conference yesterday that the police investigators should be commended for their efforts in arresting Tanda. He added that this will be the “Year of Discipline for the Police Force.”

On December 4, Tanda and two policemen were at the Boroko Police Station, between 6.30am and 9am when Evangeline John Aitsi was brought in for questioning after being found allegedly in possession of marijuana. Ms Aitsi was taken to the interview room and told to empty her string bag and wallet which revealed seven male condoms. One of the policeman forced Ms Aitsi to swallow two condoms. She was also ordered to chew the third condom but she refused. She was asked as to how she performed sexual acts and told to demonstrate in their presence. Tanda allegedly took a video footage of the victim and laughed at her while she was teased and threatened by the other two.

Ms Aitsi was not arrested and charged for the alleged offence of being in possession of marijuana.

 

Appoint Ombudsman Commissioner boss, Polye urges

Post Courier, December 31,2015, 01:03 am

DELAYING the appointment of the Chief Ombudsman for almost a year is worrying, the Opposition Leader said yesterday. Don Polye is calling on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, who is the ex officio chairman of the appointment committee, to convene a meeting immediately in January to appoint the Chief Ombudsman. “If the Chief Ombudsman’s position has been vacant for some months again, the systems of governance, transparency and accountability will continue to be at stake,” he said in a statement. He said the Chief Ombudsman’s position has been vacant since January 6, 2015.

The appointment committee comprises Prime Minister O’Neill, Opposition Leader Polye, Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, parliamentary appointments committee chairman Philip Undialu and Public Service Commission chairman Philip Kereme.

 

From economic boom to crisis management in PNG

2 January 2016 http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2016/01/02/from-economic-boom-to-crisis-management-in-png/ by Author: Paul Flanagan, ANU

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a land of contrasts. 2015 started with the prospect of PNG having the highest GDP growth rate in the world at over 21 per cent. It finished in crisis management and cash shortages. PNG proudly celebrated its 40th anniversary of independence, hosted a successful yet expensive Pacific Games and its prime minister strode the world and regional stage. But the 2016 Budget, rushed through Parliament in November given a looming vote of no-confidence, introduced even more extensive expenditure cuts than Greece has endured. Extensive currency controls are hurting businesses and undermining growth. Local businesses are facing major drops in sales and most believe the outlook will not improve in 2016. Newspaper stories report shortages of government cash. Funding is not being paid to urgent medical programs, there are uncertainties as to whether public servants will be paid, teacher entitlements are being deferred and superannuation contributions are not being deposited. A sovereign bond was the planned solution to these cash flow problems but it has been put on hold until the middle of 2016, reportedly due to a lack of market interest. The new PNG LNG project is functioning better than planned and LNG export volumes are booming. This should have been an opportunity for PNG to improve its international credit rating. However both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s have moved PNG onto a negative watch list. So what has gone so wrong?

See the report in the url above.

 

Poor financial management in PNG: can it be turned around?

By David Fellows and John Leonardo on January 12, 2016

Poor financial management in PNG: can it be turned around?

The latest Papua New Guinea (PNG) Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) assessment completed in August last year has been published. Scores for the various public financial management (PFM) performance indicators (PIs) were determined using both a new, so-called “testing” methodology and the existing 2011 methodology. Details of the scores are available in this spreadsheet [xls]

Papua New Guinea’s overall score ranks 21 out of the 24 countries. (Details are available here [xls].) Only Congo Republic, Antigua and Barbuda and Guinea-Bissau recorded lower overall scores than Papua New Guinea. PNG is also one of the poorest countries rated, but its overall performance is weaker than some even poorer, developing countries.

 

Aggregate PEFA scores for 24 countries

What is also disturbing is the suggestion that financial management in PNG has worsened. Two earlier PEFA exercises have been carried out for PNG, in 2005 and 2009. While these have not been released, we know from the ADB’s Country Operations Business Plan 2015-2017 that in 2009 32 per cent of PIs scored an A or a B. The fall from 32 per cent to 18 per cent suggests a major deterioration in public financial management in PNG.

 

Govt’s climate policy lauded

The National, Monday January 4th, 2016

THE Climate Compatible Development Policy developed by the Office of Climate Change and Development is very powerful for the country, according to Environment, Conservation and Climate Change Minister John Pundari. Pundari said it was time the country developed climate-smart policies to capture the impacts of climate change in development plans to ensure that infrastructures built were climate-resilient. “Which means, you have a policy that will allow you to build bridges and infrastructures that are tough enough to withstand floods and extreme weather conditions,” he said.

“You have a policy in agriculture that will ensure and encourage investments in crop species that will withstand drought conditions. “Such policy encourages the cultivation food crops that will give you greater yields in extreme weather conditions, thus improving and increasing food security in the country.”

 

PNG contributing to climate change

Post Courier, January 15, 2016

PAPUA New Guinea is using two harmful gases that destroys the Ozone layer and contributes to climate change. The ozone layer sets high in the atmosphere and acts as a shield that protects living things including humans from deadly radiation produced by the sun. He said that the two ODS used here are hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and they are used mainly in Refrigerators and Air conditioners. “HCFCs are not natural gas but man-made chemicals made up of Hydrogen, Carbon, Chlorine and Florine, whereas CFCs are made from carbon, florine and chlorine. “These dangerous gases can cause destruction to the Ozone layers, mainly the stratospheric ozone, and bring disaster to all living things on earth,” he said.

“The general public also need to be aware that ultimately they can help control the trade in ODS when purchasing refrigerators and air conditioners. “Users of refrigerators and air conditioners must always check labels at the back of the equipment and find out what gas it uses,” he said.

Joku said the labels would show what refrigerant those items use such as; R22 (an ODS), R12 (a prohibited refrigerant ODS), R134 (a non-ODS but greenhouse gas), R410 (a non-ODS Greenhouse gas). R600 and R290 hydrocarbon refrigerants are so called natural and environmentally friendly refrigerants that do not destroy the ozone layer. For an article on this see, http://hychill.com.au/content/3-info/cpohcr.pdf.

 

Frost-resistant kaukau unveiled

The National, Tuesday January 5th, 2016

SOUTHERN Highlands people in high altitude areas whose food gardens have been affected by frost would soon have a mutated sweet potato variety that can withstand frost. National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) revealed this in Ialibu during a workshop before New Year and named the cold tolerant mutated sweet potato as korowest. It was planted in Ialibu one month before the prolonged drought last year and it grew well.  This variety takes five months to mature.

The korowest sweet potato vines are grown at the NARI resource centre at Ialibu and have been distributed to local farmers. NARI agronomist Enopa Linday said people from Ialibu in Ialibu-Pangia district and Mogol in Mendi-Munihu district were hard hit by the prolonged drought last year and many were facing food shortage after their gardens were affected by frost. “The mutated sweet potato korowest would greatly help those affected in future climate disasters that occurring unexpectedly because of El Nino,” he said.

 

Subsistence food supply may continue

The National, Friday January 8th, 2016

SUBSISTENCE food supplies in drought-impacted areas are likely to be scarce for periods ranging from several months to one year despite the recent rain, according to an Australian National University report released yesterday. The report followed comprehensive assessment of the drought in 2015 and early 2016. “Useful rain has fallen in many parts of PNG in November and December 2015 and early January 2016,” the report said. “This has eased the water supply situation in most but not all locations. “Despite this rain, subsistence food supplies are likely to be scarce for periods ranging from several months to one year.” The report said this was because little rain had fallen in some locations, where frost destroyed all sweet potato crops at very high altitude locations, it would take up to a year before new plantings would bear.

 

Some points from the report by R.M. (Mike) Bourke, Bryant Allen and Michael Lowe

See: http://devpolicy.org/the-ongoing-impact-of-the-el-nino-drought-and-frosts-in-papua-new-guinea-20160115/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=187ecbad1f-Devpolicy_News__Jan_15_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-187ecbad1f-227683090

 

It is important to set priorities on the delivery of food aid. This is because of the very high cost of buying food and especially of delivering food and other aid to the remote communities who are suffering the most. A basic food aid ration is 400 grams of rice and 60 grams of tinned fish per person per day. This is less than the full ration recommended by UNICEF in PNG in 2015 and provides about 80% of the food energy intake for an active adult rural Papua New Guinean.The weight of such a ration is 4.6 tonnes per 10,000 people per day. It would require 3.5 loads in a Twin Otter aircraft to transport this volume per day for these 10,000 people. The cost of purchasing sufficient rice and tinned fish to feed this basic diet to 10,000 people for a 120 day period is K2.1 million, based on wholesale prices in main ports. However, the cost of transporting food to the remote locations increases these figures considerably, often more than doubling the cost. The current cost of transporting food in a chartered Twin Otter aircraft is K15,000 to K25,000 per tonne, depending on the distance of the trip. If, for example, it were determined that the highest priorities for food aid in January 2016 were in the following Rural LLG areas: Nomad and Morehead in Western Province; Kotidanga and Kaintiba in Gulf Province; Kandep and Wage in Enga Province and Makamaka in Milne Bay Province, the estimated population in these areas is 154,700. Hence the costs of purchasing a basic ration of rice and tinned fish to feed this population for a 120 day period would be about K33 million. The cost of transporting the food to these remote locations would increase this very considerably given the dependence on air transport in many places.

 

Another K2m For Drought Aid

The National, 11th January, 2016

Kandep district in Enga is spending another K2 million on relief supplies as more than 73,000 people there are still facing a food shortage. Effects of the drought and frost experienced last year are not over yet and food gardens may take another eight months before the people’s lives can return to normal.. “Frost and drought are over and we receive rain but it continues to come with hailstorms and destroys the leaves and vines of newly planted crops,” he said. Kunu said that worsened the situation in the district which resulted in many domestic animals dying of hunger. Mr Kunu said that so far they have brought in 12,600 bags of 20kg rice bags and stored them at four distribution centers at Kandep station, Yapum Catholic church, Mariant Catholic church and Lagalap Primary School. He said that as soon as another 8400 rice bags together with some containers of cooking oil and noodles were transported up from Mt Hagen any time this week, they would start distributing the food. He said the provincial disaster office assisted with 12,600 bags of 10kg bags of rice last December. He added that other than that they didn’t receive any assistance from outside.

 

See also: Politicising drought relief in Papua New Guinea

Colin Wiltshire & Thiago Cintra Oppermann

Dev Policy Blog http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/01/politicising-drought-relief-in-papua-new-guinea.html

 

Applied Forensic Accounting – Experiences from the PNG Financial Intelligence Unit.

https://pngexposed.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/applied-forensic-accounting-experiences-from-png-financial-intelligence-unit.pdf

The disparity between the cost of living and salaries, coupled with family or wantok obligations, appears to place many public servants in a situation where the temptation to engage in corrupt behavior to supplement income is likely to far outweigh any individual considerations of integrity.

The Fraud Triangle suggests there are three factors likely to be present in every situation of fraud:

 Motive (or pressure) – the need for committing fraud (need for money, etc.);

 Rationalisation – the mindset of the fraudster that justifies them to commit fraud; and

 Opportunity – the situation that enables fraud to occur (often when internal controls are weak or non-existent). Wolfe and Hermanson (2004) add to the triangle a fourth element, that being Capability – the necessary traits and abilities to commit the fraud. An examination of the circumstances of many Papua New Guinean public servants shows that many of them are in situations where at least the first three factors are present – low relative wages and family pressures providing the motive for fraud. A rationalisation that “everyone else is doing it‟ or “if I don’t take it someone else will”, and lax governance, poor oversight and a less than diligent banking sector providing ample opportunity.

 

Concerns raised over sexual perpetrators

Post Courier, January 07, 2016

INCREASING concerns have been raised over lack of prosecution for sexually related crimes.

Morobe family sexual violence action committee member Nelly McLay raised concerns saying there have been many instances where sexual offenders have not been dealt with accordingly. Australian Federal Police officer Robert Holst said one of the main reasons is that most cases of such nature heavily depend on evidence provided by victims. “Courts often rely on the victim’s statements, medical reports and eye witness accounts to deal with the perpetrator. “When one’s report is not properly documented and eyewitnesses provide evidences that are not substantial or they refuse to turn up in court these results in the perpetrator going free,” Mr Holst said. Public Prosecutor’s victims liaison officer Leonie Miroi also added that another reason for lack of prosecution is the system of compensation paid by the perpetrator to the victims family. “It would be considered unfair on the victim’s part for his or her family to receive compensation payments from the accused. “The innocence and dignity of a victim is often taken away when one encounters sexual abuse and this is something that families need to understand,” Ms Miroi said. She said that the families of victims of sexual abuse must reject compensation because it is most inappropriate considering the seriousness of the offence. “When compensation takes place the perpetrator walks free and there is a likely chance of him or her committing the crime again,” Ms Miroi said.

 

Our great negativity: The belief that we cannot do it ourselves

7 January 2016 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/01/our-great-negativity-the-belief-that-we-cannot-do-it-ourselves.html#more Martyn Namrong

IF we are truly honest to ourselves, we will admit that growing up and living in Papua New Guinea is a negative experience. As children, we were told that there was once a perfect world that Adam and Eve screwed up sending us all to eternal damnation. We were told to repent, which we did and continue to do, and then forever ask forgiveness because we are horrible sinners. Then we grew up a bit and went to school and our teachers scolded us and called us “dumb-dumbs”. We felt dumb anyway as we watched from a distance as our peers collected end of year prizes; the rest of us being told that we’d go back to our villages and plant kaukau that the smart kids would buy from us.

Then we grew up and realised it was all a lie.

Now we’re miserable because the engineer and the economist struggle to find accommodation at Morata settlement whilst the buai seller who didn’t go to school owns a trade store and a PMV bus.

In addition, if our colleagues at work reckon we’re smart, they plot against us to stop us becoming more successful. We also find that hard work isn’t rewarded unless we have connections.

I have travelled the length and breadth of this country and everyone keeps telling me that they are the “back page” of PNG, the “last people”. But many of these “back page” communities have better road and water links than the truly remote people of Nomad or Wawoi Falls. Many are only a few hours away from a main centre compared to the number of days it takes for me to travel from Daru to my village. Why do they therefore perceive themselves as being backward?

Perhaps what I am describing is what is referred to by some as “structural violence.” Structural violence refers to types of economic, political, legal, religious and cultural arrangements that stop individuals, groups and societies from reaching their full potential. (For the rest of this interesting article by Martyn Namorong, see the url above.]

 

Crisis centre caters for trafficking cases

Post Courier, January 13, 2016

TRADING in women and children is real and one place that sees these abuses is a crisis centre for women and children at Haus Ruth, run by Port Moresby City Mission. The mission’s chief executive officer Pastor Ron Brown revealed yesterday when speaking of the services that Haus Ruth provides.

He said they not only accommodate women and children suffering from violence, but also offer a comprehensive package which includes counselling, medical treatment and legal help. He said Port Moresby City Mission started 23-years-ago taking care of young homeless men and later opened Haus Ruth. It started a farm at Mirigeda where troubled young men, including those who have been in and out of prison, undergo training to become useful members of society. Pr Brown said in future, the City Mission will be focusing more on women and children suffering from violence as statistics show that the problem is not going down. The Christian non-governmental organisation’s programs in Port Moresby have also been expanded to Lae and will be in Madang this year. “By the end of this year, we will be in Madang. We are focusing on women and children, young women who are victims of violence,’’ he said. “There is a high rate of trafficking of women and children. Statistics show that the problem is not going down. Women and even children are being sold into life of prostitution. We are passionate that more needs to be done.

 

TB spreading at ‘phenomenal rate’ while govt holds back funds

15 January 2016 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/01/tb-spreading-at-phenomenal-rate-while-govt-holds-back-funds.html

A COMMUNICABLE disease expert says a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis on the Papua New Guinea island of Daru is spreading at a phenomenal rate. Western Province are battling to keep down the numbers of tuberculosis patients on Daru. Professor Brendan Crabb, from Australia’s Burnet Institute, says more than 160 of the 15,000 people on the island have been infected – a scale that hasn’t been seen before in PNG. Prof Crabb says environmental factors including poverty, a sub-optimal health system and poor housing and nutrition have contributed to its spread, but researchers are worried a unique superbug may have developed. “Traditionally drug-resistant strains of TB are considered to be less fit than the non-drug resistant forms – they’re poor growers and poor spreaders,” Prof Crabb said.

“The concern here is that may not be the case and we need to do some work to find out if there is indeed a superbug – a drug-resistant organism that’s spreading very well.”

Meanwhile, former prime minister Sir Mekere Morauta says money promised for the fight against tuberculosis must be made available. He says the national government and the Fly River provincial governments six months ago promised US$13 million dollars to fight TB in Western, Gulf and Central provinces but are yet to pay. He saids the TB problem in Daru is unprecedented and that the government should put the people first, not promote itself through showpiece events, such as the Pacific Games and APEC, and infrastructure projects like Paga Hill.

 

Witchcraft blamed for Cervical Cancer

Post Courier, January 19, 2016

PAPUA New Guineans in rural communities are blaming symptoms of cervical cancer on black magic and witchcraft. “As a result, these women don’t seek treatment at an early stage but rather leave it, then are rushed to the hospital only to be told that they have stage three or four cancer of the cervix. It is even more painful when told that it is not curable,” Ms Ruddaka said. That was the conclusion of a team from the Papua New Guinea Cancer Relief Society, which recently returned from a week-long awareness campaign targeting 13 villages and more than 1600 people in remote Morobe Patrol Post area in the Huon Gulf district. Their findings confirm the need for cancer awareness in rural communities in PNG, where most people are illiterate and do not have access to information on the dangers of communicable and non-communicable diseases. The Health Department’s nationwide awareness is from January 11 to 30 aimed at eliminating cervical cancer through HPV vaccination and screening.

 

Churches comment on sorcery existence

Post Courier, January 19, 2016

THERE have been shocking deaths, shocking responses, bewilderment, anger, revenge and fear in most traditional societies in Papua New Guinea. All this is because certain types of deaths are directly attributed to the dread powers or perceived control and influence of sorcery. Not one society is immune to the belief in sorcery and as much as it is intensely disliked, it still remains and plays a large part in trying to explain the supernatural and tragically blamed as the cause of death from normal diseases. Suspected sorcerers have been killed, maimed, publicly displayed naked, publicly burnt and all kinds of atrocities committed against them.

Dr Andrew Moutu, anthropologist and CEO of the National Museum, in a paper related to the Law reform on Custom and Underlying law said that sorcery is generally held as part of PNG’s culture, lying in religious belief systems. “It is practised or observed, revered or feared, despised or denied in various versions of customary practices,” Moutu said. Moutu said belief that its existence is not to advocate superstition, nor to descend into the slopes of irrationality, however, it summons metaphysical division of natural and supernatural, scientific and superstition and usually with a persistent search for the truth. “The quest for truth must, therefore, instruct our methods of criminalising sorcery and related incidents of violence and death stem from the belief of sorcery,” he said. Papua New Guinea United Church Bishop, Rev Vaburi Dabada even though admits the existence of sorcery in society, said that there is a greater power that we can rely on. “There is no source of power as great as the power from God,” Rev Vaburi said. He also said that as the gospel spreads and is understood and practised more and more in our day to day lives, we can overcome these other beliefs with our faith in God. “One reason why the world is in a mess is because we tend to worship and fear creation instead of worshipping and fearing the Creator,” Rev Vaburi said. The United Church Bishop explained that while the main objective of sorcery previously was to give healing and protection to an enclosed society, intermarriages had disintegrated such societies, which caused witchdoctors to lose their value and status in the society, thus changing their objective to harming people. Catholic Bishop Conference’s Fr Victor Roach said that the Church does not deny that the culture in Papua New Guinea believe in sorcery, however, it stands that scientific, medical and logical reasons in our age are able to explain such deaths.

 

Enga Police Commander Kakas adamant to find evidence in sorcery-related killings

Post Courier, January 19, 2016

THEY are vulnerable, defenceless, lonely, poor and helpless widows. Yet they are accused of wielding immense powers to kill, maim or make a person sick using sorcery. The plight of these women who are accused of practising sorcery is surreal in all contexts because they either survive the brutal ordeals they go through, or die as a result of the treatment they received under some of the most inhuman tortures known. Some are lucky and live when authorities come to their rescue or when churches intervene. Some later die as a result of the seriousness of their injuries.

Enga provincial police commander Acting Supt George Kakas is a non-believer in “sanguma” but since sorcery-related issues have become a trend in Enga, he has now set up an office to deal with all issues relating to it. One man assigned with the mammoth task of collecting and identifying suspects in sorcery cases is William Smith Kamefa. Kamefa is now going through each village trying to identify the men accused of torturing a woman with knives in her genital area, Kakas said. “In 2015, I dealt with issues where I brought in the accused and their accusers and questioned them on the case.

“In the end the accusers were unable to come up with any evidence and the ladies were saved,” Kakas said. Kakas described moments where he found himself rallying for the helpless accused. “One time a community accused a woman and her daughter of killing someone through sorcery.

The woman was strung up after being assaulted and the community had started a fire to burn her alive.

I received a text from a good Samaritan, who was at the scene and I arrived there in time and cut the woman loose. I turned to the crowd and asked them if they had evidence to produce that she had cut out the heart of the deceased. They couldn’t come up with the evidence and the lady is now residing in her in-law’s village. … Kakas said that it was time churches through rallies or services denounced sorcery and tell all church goers that those who believe in sorcery are only bringing in the devil.

“It is time churches played a big role in ensuring that sorcery be done away with in the province.”

 

PNG police examine torture of women accused of killing man with witchcraft

The circumstances around Max’s ‘death’ show the struggle Papua New Guinea authorities face against superstition-driven violence

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/21/png-police-examine-torture-of-women-accused-of-invisibly-killing-man

 

Homeless children grow in numbers

Post Courier, January 20, 2016

As the traditional social network breaks down, the number of children fending for themselves on the streets of Port Moresby and other urban centers is expected to grow. Post Courier asked Director for Child Welfare Simon Yanis for his response to this statement, especially in relation to the children’s right to education and health services as enshrined  in the  United Nations  Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which has been signed and ratified by the PNG Government. The CRC has also been integrated into PNG’s laws, including the Lukautim Pikinini Act. In response, Mr Yanis agreed that these children become the responsibility of the state when there is no one to care for them and also stated that  LPA caters for the service providers which means that the Government is obligated to provide funds to support organisations providing for these children, however, he said, funding has always been a problem. He also said the Government has a plan which is to coordinate what different organisations are doing. In the meantime, if there is any help that is forthcoming, it is from NGOs like Life PNG Care and WeCARe which is providing not just for children in street situation but other needy children such as the disabled and also vulnerable women, including paying school fees for their children.

 

The Mining Boom In Papua New Guinea Goes Boom

Source: EconomyWatch.com http://www.economywatch.com/features/The-Mining-Boom-in-Papua-New-Guinea-goes-Boom0118.html

How PNG’s money politics plays out in the context of restricted funds and persistent legal challenges will help shape domestic politics in 2016. It could well be a turbulent year.

PNG politics after the boom is republished with permission from East Asia Forum ….

 

PNG ranked among highly-corrupt

The National, Thursday January 28th, 2016

THE country has been categorised as one of the world’s highly-corrupt countries, according to the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) figures, which ranked the country 139 out of 168 countries assessed last year. Transparency International board chairman Lawrence Stephens made that known in Port Moresby, saying that the CPI was based on a combination of data collected by 12 reputable organisations globally.  According to Stephens, the information on PNG was sourced from five surveys: Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index 2016, Political Risk Services International Country Guide 2015, World Bank Country Policy and Institutional Assessment 2013, Economist Intelligence Unit Country Risk Rating 2015 and Global Insight Country Risk Ratings 2014.

“Depressing as the results of 2015 Corruption Perception Index are, they come with a challenge for ordinary citizens and people in positions of authority,” Stephens said.  New Zealand was ranked the least corrupt nation in the Asia Pacific region, chalking a CPI score of 88.

 

Rape cases in Hagen top list

The National, Friday January 29th, 2016

ALMOST half of the 449 cases recorded at the Well Women Clinic at the Mt Hagen referral hospital last year were rape cases. This was followed by 189 cases of physical assault, 31 sexual assault, three cases of denial of resources, and three of psychological abuse.  Sr Edith Namda from the Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority revealed these figures yesterday in a power point presentation during the graduation of 75 police officers who completed a two-week training on gender-based violence and psycho-social support. Namba said that according to the 2015 statistics from the Well Women Clinic, the most vulnerable age groups of rape victims belonged to the 15-18-year-old bracket.

 

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015: Papua New Guinea

Events of 2014 https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015/country-chapters/papua-new-guinea

Despite Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) current extractives-led economic boom, an estimated 40 percent of the country lives in poverty. Pressing human rights issues include gender inequality, violence, corruption, and excessive use of force by police. Rates of family and sexual violence are among the highest in the world and perpetrators are rarely prosecuted.

In 2014, in a blow to rule of law and accountability, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill sacked key officials and disbanded the country’s main anti-corruption body.

Torture and Other Police Abuse

Physical and sexual abuse of detainees—including children—by police and paramilitary police units continues to be widespread. In March, a videotape surfaced of police officers surrounding and unleashing three dogs on a defenseless man. Police officials later condemned the abuse and said the incident was being investigated….

Violence and Discrimination against Women and Girls

PNG is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman, with an estimated 70 percent of women experiencing rape or assault in their lifetime. While such acts have long been criminalized and domestic violence was specifically proscribed under the 2013 Family Protection Act, few perpetrators are brought to justice. Reports of violent mobs attacking individuals accused of “sorcery,” the victims mostly women and girls, continue to be reported. The instigators of such attacks rarely face justice, with few witnesses coming forward. In April, six people, including two children, were hacked to death when 500 men went on a sorcery hunt in Madang Province. Police arrested at least 180 suspects but police say they lack funds to complete investigations….

Disability Rights

People with disabilities in PNG are often unable to participate in community life, go to school, or work because of stigma and other barriers associated with disability. In many cases, people with disabilities are not able or allowed to leave their homes. Access to mental health care is limited, and traditional healers are the only option for many people with psychosocial disabilities.

Death Penalty

Following PNG’s 2013 expansion of the scope of crimes eligible for the death penalty and signaling its intention to resume executions, 14 prisoners were on death row at time of writing, but no executions had taken place. In March, UN expert Heyns urged PNG not to use the death penalty and pursue instead other measures including more effective policing of violent crimes.

Corruption   

In April, PNG’s Taskforce Sweep, a government anti-corruption initiative, successfully prosecuted prominent politician Paul Tiensten for misappropriating US$3.6 million in public funds. Tiensten was sentenced to nine years in jail. In June, following investigations by Taskforce Sweep, the PNG police fraud squad filed a warrant for the arrest of Prime Minister O’Neill for his alleged role in approving fraudulent payments from the PNG Finance Department to a Port Moresby law firm. O’Neill then sacked the attorney general and deputy police commissioner and ordered the disbandment of the taskforce.

Extractive industries         

Extractive industries are an important engine of PNG’s economic growth, but continue to give rise to serious human rights problems and environmental harm. Controversy raged around the alleged environmental impacts of the long-troubled Ok Tedi mine in 2014, and violent clashes erupted around the controversial Ramu Nickel project….

Key International actors   

Australia provided an additional $556.7 million this financial year to support the Manus Island detention center. Since 2013, Australia has transferred asylum seekers arriving irregularly by boat in Australian waters to PNG for refugee status determination. Those recognized as refugees are to be resettled in PNG or in a third country other than Australia. At time of writing, 1,084 men were detained on Manus Island and PNG immigration officials had completed 104 interim refugee determinations, 56 of which were positive. At this writing, the 10 refugees were to be released on temporary visas issued initially for a period of 12 months. In March, UN expert Heyns expressed regret that representatives of the private security firm G4S, which runs the detention center, were not available to meet him, and that he was refused access to the center and was unable to meet with asylum seekers.

At time of writing the report, the Australian government had deployed 73 Australian federal police officers to act as unarmed advisers to the Royal PNG Constabulary in Port Moresby and Lae to help combat high levels of violence in PNG.

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Social Concerns Notes – December 2015

Saying no to family violence

The National, Friday November 27th, 2015

THE district courts granted 1,182 interim protection orders to domestic violence survivors last year alone, as the Government works to improve the prosecution of offenders. Department of Justice and Attorney General acting deputy secretary Roselyn Gwaibo said family and sexual violence was a pervasive problem for many countries, “and PNG is no exception”.  “We all know of someone – a friend, a wantok or a colleague – who is regularly suffering from violence at home,” Gwaibo said.

“This cannot be acceptable. There is never any excuse for it and it is a terrible abuse.” She said a recent study showed 68 per cent of women employees experienced an average of eight gender-based violence incidents during the past year. “Family and sexual violence ruins lives. It permanently scares children and hinders their growth into responsible adults,” she said. “In multiple ways, family and sexual violence stops PNG from moving forward as a country.”

“We all have to do whatever we can to stop this cycle of violence repeating itself. This also means that the Government and NGOs must work together and play their part,” Gwaibo said. “The law is only ever going to be part of the answer. The Family Protection Act came into operation in 2014. Regulations under the act will be made shortly.” Police have established 14 family and sexual violence units around the country.

 

Concern as illegal booze in Bougainville triggers violence

23 December 2015 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/12/concern-as-illegal-booze-in-bougainville-triggers-violence.html#more

A BOUGAINVILLE women’s agency says there has been a surge in illicit alcohol use as Christmas approaches and more gender violence as a result. Helen Hakena, who runs the Leitana Nehan Women’s group in the autonomous province, says the illegal manufacture of homebrew seems worse than in previous years. She says she is particularly worried by the numbers of young people consuming the drink and the threat it poses to the peace process. “Living in the village I see so many women, families are brewing homebrew alcohol and that is easily accessible by young people,” Ms Hakena said. “Beginning around two weeks ago there was a lot of drinking, fighting and that is causing a lot of concern for us mothers. And gender based violence has increased as well.” Ms Hakena says attempts by police to try and curb the practice by stopping people from accessing yeast or by removing their gas bottles are easily got around. Previously, Bougainville vice president Patrick Nisira had exposed the rampant use of marijuana in the province. Mr Nisira said marijuana was the single biggest problem facing the province with up to 80% of people smoking it. Ms Hakena agreed and said, coupled with homebrew, marijuana was at the root of much of the domestic violence in the province.

Ms Hakena called for more effort to go into finding work opportunities for the province’s youth.

 

Watson: Churches do more

The National, Friday November 27th, 2015

GLOBAL leaders are realising that churches are doing more to address HIV than any other single organisation or group, according to UNAIDS country director Stuart Watson.

During a function by the PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV/AIDS on Tuesday, Watson said PNG was part of the world that came together in September this year at the United Nations headquarters in New York to commit to sustainable development goals. He said for AIDS, the objective was to end the epidemic by 2030. This ambition stood on the foundation of an unprecedented public health and human rights response that had prevented 30 million HIV infections, and almost 16 million people accessing antiretroviral around the world.  “PNG has achieved the third highest rate of treatment initiation in the Asia-Pacific region, a remarkable achievement for the country, something that we should be proud of,” Watson said. He said the great achievement was through the contribution made by churches.

 

Lae mass burial

Post Courier, December 01,2015, 12:50 am

IF THERE is no respect for the dead and burial customs as deeply rooted in PNG customs, it is the latest mass burial of 50 unclaimed bodies from the Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae city, Morobe Province. This happened last Friday where the bodies of men, women and children were literally plucked out of the morgue and thrown into the back of a three-ton dump truck and transported away.

As in such burials no funeral rites were performed and many of the half-naked men, women and children were tossed out like common rubbish onto the truck on top of each other. Pictures of the huge pile of dead bodies are too graphic to be published but they comprise different levels of physical decay. They had been kept in the morgue for between 11–12 months without relatives and families making any attempt to remove them for proper burials. Due to lack of space, the hospital had approached the Lae City Authority for a mass burial to allow space for new bodies. The unclaimed bodies include 15 children and 35 adult men and women. “It is very sad but we have no option but to clear the morgue and make spaces for new bodies coming in,” Mr Kamen said.

 

POM Hospital morgue full

The National, Thursday December 3rd, 2015

FINANCIAL constraints may lead to the lack of space at the Port Moresby General Hospital morgue, a senior officer says. Dr Umesh Gupta, the executive director of clinical services, said they lacked funds to extend the morgue or build a new one. Last week, bodies were transferred to the morgue from a 20-foot container used as a reserve cooler after it developed mechanical problems. Bodies had to be stacked on top of each other in the morgue. It is understood that most of the bodies are awaiting relatives to take them away for burial. Senior morgue attendant Gideon Mati said the holding capacity was 150 at any one time. The number however had gone over 200, he said. Mati said a compartment which should have had only four bodies was now accommodating eight. “Some of the bodies have been here for months because of the lack of identification, while others are brought in and left at the mercy of the hospital,” Mati said. Director of medical services Dr David Mokela said the attitude of some people towards their deceased relatives had changed. “Our culture is known for respecting the dead and giving them a decent burial,” Mokela said. The hospital put out a public notice last Friday for relatives to collect the bodies within two weeks. Failure to do that would result in the bodies being taken to the 9-Mile Cemetery for a mass burial.

 

Those with HIV/AIDS need love: Bishop

Post Courier, December 01,2015, 12:48 am

CHRISTIANS in Papua New Guinea have been asked to treat those living with HIV and AIDS with love. Archbishop of Port Moresby Catholic Diocese, John Ribat, who is also the chairman of the PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV and AIDS made the call yesterday in view of World AIDS Day today. He said followers of Jesus Christ must love their neighbours as he commanded and treat those with HIV and AIDS with respect. He said there must not be stigma and discrimination at health facilities and the church leaders and churches are encouraged to provide positive pastoral care to People Living with HIV/AIDS. “If we say we truly love God and if we find it difficult to love our neighbours than we definitely have a problem with our love for God. “Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan and then said go and do the same yourself,” he said. “People and children who are living with HIV/AIDS are made vulnerable because of their status. “Therefore, if we say we love God than our love should have no boundaries,’’ he said. “It is a time to advocate and promote social justice for all irrespective of who we are, as all human beings are equal and deserve to be treated equally at their homes, communities, churches, and when accessing services such as health, education and legal justice,’’ he said.

 

32,000 living with HIV

The National, Tuesday December 1st, 2015

AN estimated 32,000 people are living with HIV in the country, although there are thousands others living with the virus but do not know it, an official says. As the nation celebrates World Aids Day today, Peter Bire, the director of the National AIDS Council secretariat, said the “incidence rate is decreasing or stabilising to around 2000 new cases per year”. “The national average adult prevalence rate is 0.65 per cent,” he said. “However, unfortunately, the prevalence rate is much higher in certain key or most-at-risk populations such as sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgenders, including those with TB and other sexually transmitted diseases.

One of the people living with HIV, Maura Elaripe, yesterday told of how she struggled with HIV for 18 years. Elaripe, 38, from Ihu district in Gulf, was diagnosed with HIV in 1997, when she was 18. She had graduated as a nurse and was into her first year of working when she contracted the disease.

“When I contracted the disease, there was no organisation, no policy or drugs to cater for that disease. There was nothing in place for HIV,” she said. She began in 2001 to come out and tell her story to help people understand the problem and to help those like her.

 

Church pleads for AIDS carriers

The National, Tuesday December 1st, 2015

THE Catholic Church is calling on citizens to think of people who have suffered discrimination and marginalisation because they are carrying the HIV virus. In a statement to mark World Aids Day today, the church said families of HIV-positive people who had suffered with them and the people who had taken care of them and grieved for them should be acknowledged. “We must always remember those people who have humbly but determinedly advocated for the dignity of people living with HIV through compassionate care and support,” the statement said. The church said in spite of a slow start, the country’s response to HIV had been impressive. “The response is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when people work together,” he said. The church has trained health workers, created community education programmes and set up counselling and testing centres.

 

I am a Survivor. Bid to stop spread of HIV/AIDS

Post Courier, December 08,2015, 12:25 am

AT 32, Carol Kamen has lived almost half of her life with HIV, and says she lived long because of taking the antiretroviral drugs and the support she has from her family and community. She says she was an example of stories of ‘sugar daddies’ where she begun having sex with older man when she was at primary school, and at the age of 18 when she was doing grade 11 she went for an HIV test which revealed that she was HIV. By that time, she had many sexual partners and it was difficult to know from whom she had contracted the virus. Ms Kamen told her story during the celebration of the World AIDS Day in Port Moresby last week on December 1. She had a plaster on her nose which she says was from a beating she got from her husband a week before the World AIDS Day celebrations because she made a decision to give her testimony in public. She said she was not ashamed to speak because it could help other young people and also this is her way of help prevent the spread of HIV to the next generation, saying “I would not want to see my child go through it’’. Her three-year-old daughter is a big healthy girl and is HIV negative just like her father for which Ms Kamen is proud, saying this is due to the HIV treatment and encouraged people to go for HIV test so that if they test positive they will go on treatment and live longer. “Please get to know your status. VCT is free. I’ve been living with HIV for 16 years. I take ARV it is free,’’ she said. Don’t be shamed. If you have the family and community support you will be strong.’’ Mrs Kamen said contrary to what she thought, she had not experienced stigma and discrimination since she revealed her status.

 

More violence victims at Care Centre

26 November 2015 http://www.solomonstarnews.com/features/women/9096-more-violence-victims-at-care-centre

MORE than five hundred violence victims in Solomon Islands are being housed at the Christian Care Centre (CCC) outside Honiara.This was confirmed by Director of the Centre Sr. Ruth Hope on Wednesday. “The majority of these figures are women, girls and children victimized from the gender-based violence,” Sr Hope said. She added that this is the highest ever recorded since the Centre was set established. “These victims came to the Centre seeking for help and we take care of them,” Sr Hope said. She added that the Centre remains humble to accommodate such victims. “There are some wrong interpretations that this Centre is for devoting families but thats not the intention. The intention is to stop violence against women in this country,” she said.

 

Mob kills ‘sorcery’ mother

The National, Tuesday December 8th, 2015

A MOTHER of five accused of practising sorcery allegedly resulting in the recent death of a health officer has been killed, police say. Southern Highlands police commander Superintendent Sibron Papoto said the body of Susan Rote Dickson was cut up and thrown in a fire. He said Dickson was accused of causing the death – through sorcery – of district health officer Elizah Lisa. Dickson was from Turile village near the Kagua district headquarters. Papoto said Lisa’s Miruba tribesmen from Yane, Porane and Mukiri villages apprehended Dickson on November 28, after the funeral of Lisa.

He said they tortured her with knives before cutting up her body and throwing the pieces into a fire.

He said police and health workers managed to retrieve some of her body parts and buried them.

Papoto said the Miruba tribesmen also torched 29 houses, killed two cows and slaughtered pigs belonging to Dickson’s relatives at Turile village. Papoto condemned the act as barbaric and promised that all those involved would face justice. He said two men were jailed by the National Court in Mendi for 21 years each for killing a woman they accused of practising sorcery in 2013 at Kumbiyane village in East Pangia.

 

Version of incident received by Commission for Social Concerns of CBC

Susan lived at Tulire, not far from the Government Station in Kagua. Susan was married with 4 sons. She was a prayerful person, a member of the Lutheran Renewal Church. She looked after a “prayer house.” Susan’s cousin Elijah was sick. She went to pray with him and washed his swollen legs. A few days later his illness worsened and he was taken to Mt Hagen hospital, where he died. Rumours started to go around that Susan was the cause of Elijah’s death (through sorcery). After all she had been close to him, washing him and so on. His clansmen were threatening to attack her clanspeople When Susan heard about this she asked her husband’s brother to take her to her accusers. Her accusers demanded of her, “You must have known something about the death of Elijah, so tell us.” She replied that she knew nothing. When pressed she said that she believed in God and that her hands were clean – she was innocent.

They took her away and started torturing her. They cut her ears, stripped her naked, put a rope around her neck and dragged her along the road. While being dragged like that she called to a boy named Oku who was leading the interrogation, “Why have you done this. My hands are clean.” She was dragged to a place where they prepared a fire. They placed her on car tyres, poured petrol over her and around the tyres and lit a match. While burning to death she could be heard sayin, “Oku, Oku, why are you doing this to me. In God’s name my hands are clean. I am innocent.” Eventually people took any remaining parts of her body and burned it all to dust.

 

HIV treatment program doing well

Post Courier, December 02,2015, 01:52 am

Papua New Guinea is doing well in its treatment program for HIV/AIDS although the targets for its other programs are below 50 per cent. National AIDS Council Secretariat senior monitoring and evaluation officer Agnes Gege said. “Most of our targets are still below 50 per cent, except for the treatment program which is almost 90 per cent,’’ she said. She said the national adult HIV prevalence rate is 0.65 per cent with an estimated number of 32,000 living with HIV/AIDS. The accumulative figure since the virus was detected in 1987 is 60,000. Of which, 24,000 have already died. Also, as of the end of June, 2015, a total of 20,032 PLHIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy in accordance with the nationally approved treatment protocol or WHO standards.

 

Expenditure in PNG’s 2016 Budget – A Detailed Analysis

http://www.pngblogs.com/2015/12/expenditure-in-pngs-2016-budgett.html. By Paul Flanagan

PNG is a high-taxing and very high-spending country relative to its Asia Pacific peers. Most of any adjustment to the fiscal balance should therefore occur on the expenditure side. PNG is planning to do this with a drop in the expenditure to GDP ratio from the highest level ever, of 38.1% in 2013, to its lowest level ever, of 24.6% in 2020. PNG has never attempted such a fiscal consolidation – not even to recover from the fiscal crises of the 1990s. Putting this into an international perspective, PNG is seeking to adjust government expenditure by 13.5% of the economy. This is more than double the government expenditure reductions undertaken by Greece of 6.3% (from 51.4% of GDP in 2010 to 45.1% of GDP in 2015). Of course, PNG is not facing a Greek-style fiscal crisis (at the start of its crisis Greece had a broadly similar deficit of 11%, but a much higher public debt level of 170% of GDP), but it is planning a similar or more draconian response. PNG is seeking real expenditure cuts of 23%, and Greece of 16%, in the peak expenditure cutting period (for PNG, from the 2015 budget to the 2017 forward estimates, for Greece, from 2011 to 2013). In nominal price terms the cuts are similar (15% each), but Greece has a lower inflation rate. In fact, this more detailed analysis indicates that PNG has gone down a path of tougher cuts than Greece, even though its fiscal problems are not as severe. This comparison is made to highlight the extent of expenditure adjustment contained in the 2016 budget. The magnitude of such cuts is not realistic, credible or desirable, especially when one looks at how they have been made.

 

In the midst of all of these cuts at the sectoral level, there are concerns when looking at even greater detail. This is most clearly illustrated by noting that the government is still committed to hosting the APEC meeting in PNG in 2018 at a cost of K3 billion (figure contained in IMF Article IV report). This is more than the $US1 billion in extra debt planned through the sovereign bond. It contrasts to insufficient funding for preparations for the 2017 election (only K10m relative to the out-going Electoral Commissioner’s planned K170m, with another K600m hoped for in 2017), road maintenance, drought relief and the halving of support for the well-respected church health partnerships.

Overall assessment

This budget was always going to be challenging. The 2015 budget reflected hopes that the largest deficits in PNG’s history could be wound back through revenues from the PNG LNG project. The fall in LNG and other commodity prices undermined that hope. The 2015 Supplementary Budget and the 2016 budget commence a possible path to recovery. However, there are significant issues with the path chosen due to missed revenue opportunities, a lack of transparency on issues such as public debt levels and SOEs, and excessive expenditure reductions. It is the latter that is of particular concern. The planned 60% reductions in the economic sector, and 45% reductions to the health, education and infrastructure sectors simply do not seem credible in the context of an election next year, and they are not desirable either. More modest expenditure cuts, better prioritisation, and revenue reforms would have been a better alternative.

[The full article can be accesses at the url above]

 

Job market opens to refugees

Post Courier, December 08, 2015

EMPLOYMENT for refugees is now a reality following the waiver of the strict protocols requiring mainly work permits and certain restrictions primarily targeting foreigners. They will not need to apply for work permits as foreigners. All they need now is to obtain their visas and certificate of identity and all will be well in the job market. PNG Immigration and Citizenship Services Authority acting deputy chief migration officer Clarence Parisau revealed, saying the Government had waived certain restrictions hindering the process required to integrate the refugees into the employment market. “The National Government waived off and exempted all refugees from applying for work permits as foreigners as of last year. “This means that all refugees including those on Manus Island can apply for jobs just like any other ordinary citizen of PNG,” he said. He said in the past the normal protocols hindered refugees from attaining employment opportunities. Mr Parisau said the Government has removed the citizenship application fee of K10,000 for each refugee. “After a refugee has lived in PNG for eight years and over and has met certain requirements they are welcome to apply for citizenship for free. “This makes it even easier for refugees to contribute towards various economical activities to sustain themselves financially,” he said.

 

PNG ranked most corrupt

Post Courier, December 10, 2015

PAPUA New Guinea is ranked 145 out of 174 countries perceived to have high levels of public sector corruption in the world. This was revealed by Transparency International Papua New Guinea yesterday on World Anti-Corruption Day. “From the month of March to December, 2015, 687 individual witnesses and victims have laid complaints with the TIPNG on corrupt activities in the country. “A total of 288 complaints were also made by informal groups, private sector, non-profit organisations with the results yet to be identified,” program manager for advocacy and legal advice centre Leilani Ose said. She said out of the 875 complaints from witnesses and victims of corruption in, a very big number of complaints were on lack of transparency, conflict of interest, mismanagement of public funds and bribery. Ms Ose stressed that most witnesses and victims complained about land issues like logging and landowners difficulties, banking and finance, and police. “We need to fight strongly and break the chain of corruption in our country, what belongs to the people is rightfully theirs.

 

Street Ministry celebrates Christmas

Post Courier, December 10, 2015

THE Journey to celebrate this Christmas must be a joyful one and it was indeed a joyous event for the Children of Street Ministry in Port Moresby yesterday. Though they are labeled street children, they proved themselves to be talented and special during the closing of the school year and the Christmas celebration at the St Joseph’s Parish community hall. Founder of the ministry, Archbishop John Ribat encouraged the children and reminded them that they are special gifts from God and must be part of the journey to celebrating Christmas. “As we focus on Christmas, let us focus on our families, communities and our nation and let us be united in preparing ourselves for the celebrations of Christmas. “Because it is about celebrating Jesus coming into our hearts and lives,” he said. The event saw children from the ASAC and the Laki Guzup Skul who come from Rabiagini, Vadavada, Ranugiri and Erima settlements, which are squatter quarters on the outskirts of the city, perform Christmas dramas, dance and yoga. Archbishop Ribat said the aim of establishing the ministry was to help educate the unfortunate children. “I’m joyful that this ministry is fruitful and has grown from 2010. These children normally wander the streets begging, stealing, or help park vehicles to earn themselves a bit of cash and most are looked down in the society,” he said. The office of street ministry conducts literacy programs, teach basic literacy and numeracy skills to the children, and help them re-enter the education system of the country. Besides literacy, the ministry also teaches socialisation skills, problem solving, anger management among others.

 

Powerful documentary screens at city cinema

Post Courier, December 11, 2015

A POWERFUL film on gender based violence in Papua New Guinea with a national campaign aimed at bringing a solution will soon be screened throughout the country. Titled Senisim Pasin (Change your Ways), the inaugural screening of the documentary was on a big screen at the Paradise Cinema at Vision City on Wednesday, on the eve of the International Human Rights Day. Produced by Papua New Guinea Tribal Foundation with the help of Global Virtual Studio, the 43-minute film is in Tok Pisin and of a Hollywood quality and was shown to a selected group of people before it will be screened throughout the country. The documentary includes a short preview of the Senisim Pasin national campaign and a call to action where the audience was invited to be part of the change or solution to the problem of violence in PNG, including making a pledge. President of PNG Tribal Foundation Gary Bustin said PNG has tough laws and the Senisim Pasin film and campaign, produced over two years and cost about K1 million, should jump start the process towards implementation of the laws. The funding from the project came from both the Porgera Remediation Framework Association and the government under its national strategy for responsible sustainable development project when Senisim Pasin was adopted as part of the national strategy. “Senisim Pasin” highlights the value women add to society by telling the stories of women who overcame obstacles and who have accomplishments.

 

Teachers irked over 30pc leave fare cuts

Post Courier, December 15, 2015,

TEACHERS in the National Capital District have been forced to cancel their holidays this year because their leave fares have been cut by 30 per cent. Not only that but they are facing more cuts on top of the 30 per cent imposed by a so-called leave fares committee set up within the NCD education services division. This means all their families and themselves will spend the holidays in the city and not with their relatives and loved ones back in their tranquil homes, towns, villages and provinces as planned. Their anger is directed at the division which they said unilaterally imposed the extra cuts for unexplained reasons. They are only aware of the initial 30 per cent cut announced last month by the Teaching Services Commission due to critical cash shortages.

 

Youth group help reduce crime rate

Post Courier, December 15,2015, 01:54 am

VISITORS travelling into and out of Madang are now able to do so more freely. This is because of a group of youth who have taken it on themselves over the past nine months to ensure the place is trouble free. Dubbed “The Airport Crime Prevention Unit,” or ACPU, the group which started out with just a handful has grown to more than 70 individuals. From dawn when the first plane leaves to dusk to the final lift off, they have faithfully patrolled the area to keep it crime-free. Up until March this year, the airport road has been plagued with crimes of all sorts. Stoning of vehicles, armed hold-ups and breaking and entering were a norm in the province. The last business house to be hit was the helicopter firm, Heli-Niugini. Tired of the bad image that has been painted by minority groups, the youth decided to get together and do something positive. Thus, the ACPU was born and with the help of Heli-Niugini and local authorities.

 

Big loss of life in early pregnancy: Doctor

The National, Thursday December 17th, 2015

EACH year 15,000 women die as a direct result of either pregnancy or child birth in PNG, it has been revealed. Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB) research programme manager Dr Michelle Hendel said PNG had one of the highest rates of maternal and new-born mortality in the world.

“And 5000 babies don’t make it through their first month of life,” Dr Hendel said.  She said a recent review by the Health Department and World Health Organisation (WHO) identified that up to 98 percent of those maternal lives could be saved through swifter access to quality healthcare.

 

‘PNG has highest number of adolescents with HIV’

Post Courier, December 18, 2015

PAPUA New Guinea is among 10 countries which account for 98 per cent of adolescents aged 10-19 living with HIV in the Asia-Pacific. These countries are: Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. A recent report by UNICEF states among countries where data is available, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines have the highest proportion of adolescents living with HIV, accounting for almost 10 per cent of total people living with HIV in each country. The report describes the region is facing a “hidden epidemic” of HIV among adolescents an estimated 50,000 new HIV infections among adolescents aged 15-19 in 2014, accounting for 15 per cent of new infections. There are now around 220,000 adolescents living with HIV in the region, with large cities like Bangkok, Hanoi and Jakarta hubs of new infections.

 

A victim of domestic violence shows her head wound patched up with tape in a women’s shelter in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/dec/16/women-domestic-violence-abuse-papua-new-guinea

When the UN introduced the millennium development goals (MDGs) in 2000, its third pledge – to promote gender equality and empower women – promised to herald worldwide reform. But 15 years later, and with 67% of women in the country suffering domestic abuse, progress in Papua New Guinea has been far slower than hoped. [For the full article, see the url above]

 

El Niño cuts its ugly swathe & PNG bears the brunt

17 December 2015 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/12/el-niño-warning-bells-deafening-png-bears-the-brunt.html

Around 4.7 million people face hunger, poverty and disease across the Pacific alone due to El Niño-related droughts, erratic rains and frosts. Globally, 18 million people are already in need of assistance.

The case for urgent action is outlined in a new Oxfam report, Early Action on Super Charged El Niño Vital to Save Lives. Oxfam New Zealand’s Pacific humanitarian manager Carlos Calderon said governments in at-risk countries are learning from slow responses to past crises and must aim to scale-up early action now, with the support of the international community, to prevent the weather event sparking major humanitarian crises. “The last major El Niño in 1997-1998 caused widespread loss of life, damage, displacement and disease outbreaks in many parts of the world, and this year’s El Niño is expected to be even more severe,” Calderon said. Papua New Guinea is bearing the brunt of El Niño in the Pacific region, with the country’s National Disaster Committee reporting that up to three million people are at risk as crop failures force many people to cut back to eating just one meal a day.

People are walking for hours to find water and face increased risk of disease due to poor hygiene.

“The warning bells are deafening. We must act now to save lives and prevent people falling further into poverty,” Calderon said.

 

Call to help drought areas

The National, Friday December 18th, 2015

THERE is a need to focus funding on the most remote and critically affected drought areas in the country as the people there are struggling to get assistance with food, water and medical supplies due to limited access, an agriculturalist said. Michael Bourke, while presenting a report on the impact of frost and drought in Papua New Guinea, outlined the impact on food which resulted in the increase consumption of rice and unusual food such as wild yams, banana corms and green pawpaw.  He said that due to the severe drought, theft from gardens and use of savings to buy food was increasing as those who were adversely affected resorted to such activities to help themselves and their families.

While focusing on the rural areas affected by the drought, Bourke said that not only caused school closures and widespread bushfires that damaged houses and gardens but migration to other rural or urban locations. He said priority need was in remote locations where the impact of the drought was the worst because villagers in those places had low cash income, limited market access, no road access and limited capacity to influence aid.

He said cost of transporting food other aid to these locations was high. Bourke compared the 1997 drought with the current one, saying that social media and mobile phones improved information flow and with the improvement to some roads, aid could be delivered to some remote areas, but many remote roads and airstrips were no longer usable, resulting in most aid yet to reach those areas.

Bourke urged the Government, stakeholders, and other agencies to assist with funding for resources and logistics so that the severely drought stricken areas in the remote parts of the country could be assisted

 

Article on frost and dry season

http://www.inapng.com/pdf_files/Bourke%20drought%20POM%20Dec15%20Ver2.pdf

 

The three political economies of electoral quality in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea

By Terence Wood on December 7, 2015 http://devpolicy.org/the-three-political-economies-of-electoral-quality-in-solomon-islands-and-papua-new-guinea-20151204/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=50b22f723b-Devpolicy_News__Dec_18_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-50b22f723b-227683090

Download pdf

 

Is the free education policy really helping the young generation?

Post Courier, December 01, 2015 By Lorna Paul (DWU Journalism student)

A lot of leaders have been raising concerns about where to put the increasing number of grade twelve leavers in the country as an outcome of the free education policy. The people of the country are enjoying the luxury of sending their kids to school for free but they don’t know that the number of spaces in the lower education level is not equivalent to the available spaces in the tertiary institutions. This could be the main course for the increasing number of young people on the streets. Anti-corruption Taskforce Sweep chairman Sam Koim said at a graduation ceremony that this is the biggest challenge faced by the country today. He said that in 5-10 years’ time there will be a lot of young educated citizens but they will have nothing to do. He said that labor is a very important factor in the country but Papua New Guinea is making use of cheap labor.” The country must make sure that it utilizes the labor of young people. The young population has more energy and if the country does not put its labor to use it can be destructive”, said Mr Koim. He also said that with this policy, quality education is being over looked for quantity.” Since leaders do not send their kids to the secondary schools in the country or go to the our general hospitals when they are sick they do not know what is really happening, they choose the best for their kids in other countries  “, he said.

The bottom line is, is the free education policy developing the country or is it mess recruiting young drop outs on the streets?

 

What are exams good for? Primary and secondary school exam reform in PNG

By Anthony Swan on December 15, 2015   http://devpolicy.org/what-are-exams-good-for-primary-and-secondary-school-exam-reform-in-png-20151215/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=50b22f723b-Devpolicy_News__Dec_18_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-50b22f723b-227683090

What are exams good for? This question cuts to the heart of a debate occurring in Papua New Guinea on how students should be assessed as they progress through primary and secondary school. Currently all students at the end of primary school (grade 8) and lower secondary school (grade 10) are required to sit an externally administered nationwide exam. However, as PNG prepares to release a new five-year National Education Plan, these national exams are set to be phased out over the next six years from 2016 and replaced by “internal school assessment systems”. Unless new national exams are introduced, such as NAPLAN in Australia, the only national examination will be for students at the end of high school (grade 12). The main reason being communicated to the public for the change is to remove constraints on students progressing from primary to secondary school and into year 12. As reported [pdf] by the PNG Department of Education, “Each year around 100,000 students are pushed out of the education system as a direct result of these examinations”. The problem is that the grade 8 and 10 results are used by provincial administrations to select students into secondary schools. The “pushed out” students are those that fail to meet the minimum cut-off grade in these exams.

 

…The challenge for education reformers is to invest in both school infrastructure and teachers to facilitate access to school, as well as to ensure that time spent at school by students is not just leading to “empty learning”. National, standardised and externally based examinations allow for independent and transparent measures of student learning outcomes, which are crucial for raising the quality of education. That’s what exams are good for.

 

O’Neill puts squeeze on B’ville as he seeks to buy Panguna mine

23 December 2015 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/12/momis-fears-rio-is-poised-to-sell-bcl-equity-to-png-government.html#more

IN a letter seen by PNG Attitude, Bougainville president John Momis has told the managing director of Rio Tinto he is concerned the Papua New Guinea government is positioning to buy Rio’s 53.83% equity in Bougainville Copper (BCL). Dr Momis advised Sam Walsh this information was conveyed to him early in December by two PNG government ministers. One of them, Ben Micah, let Dr Momis know that, following a series of meetings with Rio Tinto, PNG wished to purchase Rio’s equity and is seeking the agreement of the Autonomous Bougainville Government for the deal. Dr Momis wrote to Mr Walsh that, in earlier meetings with Rio Tinto in July, he had been assured “in the clearest terms” that the company had not yet finalised a review of its stake in BCL and that there was no agreement between Rio Tinto and the PNG government about a sale of equity. Dr Momis sought Mr Walsh’s “urgent assurance that, if Rio has decided to divest, it will enter into discussions with my government about the consequences of such a decision.”

Meanwhile Dr Momis – in a speech to the Bougainville parliament yesterday – said the PNG government has been ignoring the requirements of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and its chronic underpayment of grants and taxes has left the ABG’s budget in very poor shape.

He said that, if the matter was not resolved by February, the ABG will take the PNG government to the Supreme Court. One commentator on Bougainville affairs told PNG Attitude that “it seems strange that in a situation where PNG is in deep fiscal crisis, it proposes to spend US$100 million on shares in BCL, but at the same time claims it cannot meet its constitutional obligations to fund the Bougainville government.”

 

Hospital theft on the rise (Honiara)

Published: 18 December 2015 http://www.solomonstarnews.com/news/national/9168-hospital-theft-on-the-rise

Latest victim loses laptop, cash. HEALTH authorities are working on beefing up security around the National Referral Hospital (NRH) premises in light of the increasing incidents of theft in there.

Victim Timothy Magusi told the Solomon Star he spent the night in the Children’s ward taking care of a family member who was admitted. “At around 2 am, my eyes were so sleepy that I decided to doze off using my bag as a pillow,” he said. However, Mr Magusi said when he woke up after a three-hour sleep; he noticed the bag he used as a pillow had gone missing from his head. “My bag contains a laptop, three flash drives, one mobile phone, a wallet with $800 cash, a bank card, and school identification card,” he said. “When I realised my bag had been stolen, I rushed over to the security guards and alerted them about it, but they could do nothing because they don’t know who the thief is,” Mr Magusi said. Over the past months, people looking after sick relatives at the hospital have complained of valuables being stolen while they were fast asleep.

 

Another Sorcery Accusation Killing in Enga

(From a private source)

A school inspector from Enga Province who was working in Chuave in Simbu Province died. His body was brought back to Enga (Pipi) to be buried. This was in November 2015. His wife Lucy, who is from Wapenamanda in Enga accompanied the body of her husband. At the funeral the wife was accused of “sanguma” (witchcraft) and of having caused the death of her husband. After all she had been living in Simbu, which Enga people think of as the “home” of sanguma witchcraft. People locked the woman in a house and tried to set fire to the house so as to burn her. But the house did not catch fire. So they locked her in the house and threw the key into the river. She is the mother of four children, two boys and two girls. One son supported the people in getting rid of his mother. The other was opposed to them killing his mother. They kept a close eye on him to make sure he did not rescue her. She was left locked in the house with no food or water. She could be heard crying inside the house. After about 14 days the crying ceased and a day later there was a bad smell coming from the house – they say ike the smell of a dead dog. Presuming that she had died, people opened the house, took the body, and disposed of it in the high forest away from the village.

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Social Concerns Notes – November 2015

Brave Simbu woman stands up for others

Post Courier, November 27, 2015

Mrs Josephine Durua has won the Bravery and Courage award of the CPL Pride of Papua New Guinea Awards for Women. When receiving the award at the Parliament State Function Room last Thursday, along with the other five awardees, the Chimbu woman used the opportunity to do more advocacy on this issue by drumming it to her listeners that false accusations of women of witchcraft and sorcery must stop. She lives and works in Morata in Port Moresby, a Moresby Northwest suburb that was at one stage notorious for criminal activities. Apart from being the court magistrate, Mrs Durua has gone an extra-mile by voluntarily being engaged as a counsellor to women who have become victims of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their husbands. Despite her position in the community, she was accused of practising sorcery and witchcraft by a female pastor in 2001. She said she was shocked when she learned why her own immediate family, including her children were mistreating her. She lived with stigma and was often assaulted with bush knives and axes (aside from countless threats) by her own husband and his relatives. In 2001, she took the pastor to District Court at downtown Port Moresby which ruled in her favour. Despite these challenges, Mrs Durua continues to serve the Morata community. She is currently the Morata Village Court Magistrate. Apart from her court duties, she continues to assist women who suffer from various forms of violence.

 

Health yet to be free

The National, Wednesday November 18th, 2015

THE Government’s free primary health care policy is yet to be realised by the people, a parliamentary committee has been told. The parliamentary committee on public sector reform and service delivery chaired by Goroka MP Bire Kimisopa has been hearing submissions from officials on issues they face in the delivery of health services. The hearing ends today with top Health Department officials meeting the committee members. Sister-in-charge of the Malahang health centre in Lae, Daisy Basa, told the committee yesterday that the centre continued to charge sick people fees in order to keep the facility operating. The clinic was allocated K12,500 in 2013, all of which had been exhausted. It is yet to receive its allocation from the 2014 and 2015 national budgets. Western province health officials who appeared before the committee on Monday shared similar concerns on the lack of funding to effectively implement health programme.

 

Madang inmates share experiences to inspire public

Post Courier, November 20, 2015

Inmates of Madang’s Beon jail have started sharing their experiences in public as part of an outreach program aimed at making Madang safe again. The initiative, which has been orchestrated by the Prison Fellowship Care Group of Beon, started last week and is planned to run for another three weeks. The program will have convicted persons currently serving time at Beon going out to public areas and trouble hotspots to share their stories on what led them to prison and what prison life has been like for them. According to chairman of the Prison Fellowship Madang Care Martin Hawek, the group visited Gum and Jomba Primary School yesterday after having brief public sharing sessions at the markets and populated areas around Madang. Mr Hawek, who has been with the prison fellowship for the past fifteen years, said that students and teachers were significantly moved as they listened to the testimonies of some of the most notorious criminals in Madang. “All in attendance at our sessions were very attentive and seemed impacted when we were leaving. “I know that a life change is not something that happens overnight, but in allowing some of the criminal elements of the town to see their so-called elders who are serving time, they are given an opportunity to change their ways and make possible healthy choices.”

 

Refugee policy endorsed

The National, Monday October 26th, 2015

CABINET has endorsed a national refugee policy, according to Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Rimbink Pato. “Papua New Guinea has a proud tradition of helping people in need,” he said. “This policy affirms our humanitarian values and our strong regional leadership.”

The five key principles are that PNG recognises the rights of refugees in accordance with its commitments under the 1951 Convention on the status of refugees and related 1967 protocol, and the principles of this policy and incorporates these within national legislation. That PNG is committed to working with other countries and international organisations to provide protection to refugees and combat people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transitional crime. That PNG may enter into arrangements with other countries or international organisations for processing asylum seekers’ claims and where appropriate settlement of refugees. He said the policy covered all refugees in the country, including those from Indonesia’s Papua province and non-Melanesian refugees who either arrived independently or were transferred under arrangements with Australia.

 

Vision-impaired Emmanuel Simon has completed his big test

25 October 2015 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/10/vision-impaired-emmanuel-simon-

has-completed-his-big-test.html

AS Grade 12 students throughout Papua New Guinea prepare for their national examinations, vision-impaired Emmanuel Simon from Rosary Secondary School, Kondiu, is comfortably in tune with all of them. Emmanuel and Clency Amos, both of whom are vision impaired, were enrolled for the first time into the formal education system last year – Clency in Year 9 and Emmanuel in Year 11. At Rosary Secondary School, the subject teachers rose to the challenge of adapting their teaching-learning strategies to accommodate the two students. Mingende Callan Services engaged a full time staffer specialising in Braille to adjust the tests and assignments for each subject. It was an interesting year for the subject teachers and the two special needs students. The striking characteristics found in these vision-impaired students have been their patient and perseverance.

Clency and Emmanuel have lived up to the motto, “Don’t look at my disability; look at my ability.”

 

Call to end sorcery violence

Post Courier, October 29, 2015

THE United States has come out clearly against sorcery-related violence, US Ambassador Walter North said yesterday in Mendi, Southern Highlands Province, at a sorcery-related violence forum.

Mr North, was also in the province to recognise the many courageous heroes who raised their voices to challenge sorcery violence. The US Embassy has called on the provincial police authorities to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the senseless acts of brutal violence inflicted on three women and one man in Mendi, highlighted in the Post-Courier anti-sorcery campaign last week.

The US had also called for appropriate resources and attention to be dedicated to addressing these crimes. “Too often this sort of violence goes unreported and occurs without the perpetrators being held accountable,” the embassy said in a statement. “Adequate and timely response by the police and judicial system is needed to deter future crimes and hold perpetrators responsible for their actions.

 

Students jailed for sorcery related killing

Post Courier, October 28, 2015

A grade 12 student in one of the Secondary schools in the Southern Highlands and his accomplice involved in the torture and killing of a suspected sorcerer have been sentenced to 42 years in total.

Southern Highlands provincial police commander Superintendent Sibro Papoto said the National Court in Mendi recently convicted the two men to 21 years each for murdering a man and burning his home after suspecting him as a sorcerer. He said as a result of quick police action to apprehend and charge the two offenders, the court was able to impose the penalty on the two men, signaling a greater warning to those involved in sorcery related violence like torture and killings. Superintendent Papoto said in relations to the recent torture of three people at Wau, Kumin and Kave, near Mendi town that police managed to rescue the victims but they would not arrest any suspect as the entire community is concealing all the information from police. He said it is making the work of police more difficult because the victims and community even cannot come forward to give evidence or even register their complaints. Mr Papoto said another sorcery related victim was also rescued by police from more torture but the victim had gone into hiding and is not cooperating with police to provide evidence.

He said another suspected victim was also rescued at Pokrapul village in the Imbongu district.

“ I commend my policemen who have tried under all difficult circumstances to assist the suspects but its it’s the entire community involved in torturing and hiding all information, making it so difficult, “he said. He said it need a collective approach involving the police, courts, churches and the civil societies to address such issues through awareness and education.

 

Address sorcery related violence now, says North

Post Courier November 04, 2015

THE United States Ambassador Walter North said PNG cannot wait 100 years to address sorcery related violence. Speaking last week during the sorcery accusation related violence forum in Mendi, organised by the Catholic Diocese of Mendi and Tari, the US envoy said Papua New Guinea cannot wait 100 years to be delivered of the burden of belief in sorcery. “I choose to see the voices that challenge. I hear the voices of those Catholic sisters and others who risk injury to stop the violence. I stand in awe of the men and women in villages that care for victims. “I cherish the courage of those victims who share their stories. I applaud the men and women, working daily to end the violence in this country. These voices will not be silenced. They inspire and challenge us not to give up, not to lose hope and not to surrender to despair.”

Ambassador North said he has every confidence that their energy and their dedication, day in and day out, can transform PNG from “the land of the unexpected” into a nation where expectations of human dignity and lives free of violence are met. He said he had been in PNG for nearly three years and has found a strong foundation of reason empathy and self-control in many Papua New Guineans that he has met. “Channelling those positives into a reduction and elimination of sorcery related violence is imperative. In this regard, I fully endorse the Prime Minister’s acknowledgement that citizens and the Government have to work closer to communities… to change attitudes so we can stamp this out.

“To parapharase former President Bill Clinton, ‘there is nothing wrong with [PNG] that can’t be fixed with what is right in [PNG],” the US Ambassador said.

 

Warning on sorcery killing

The National, November 4th, 2015

TORTURING and killing people accused of sorcery is a criminal offence, lawyer Miranda Forsyth says. She has expertise in criminal law in the Pacific Islands, especially Vanuatu. She said there was no defence for someone who believed that a person tortured was a sanguma. Speaking to stakeholders at Kumin in Southern Highlands, she said sorcery-related killings were prevalent in the province.

She said the courts in the past 20 years had not accepted the excuse of Sanguma as a mitigating factor during sentencing. “The courts have been saying these cases are really serious and we want to stop them from happening so we will give serious penalties,” she said.  “So some cases people have been given penalties of 50 years imprisonment. But the problem with this law at the moment is its implementation. “We hear that people are afraid to lodge complaints or be witnesses in fear of retaliation. It handicaps the work of the police,” she said. She said the Sorcery Act 1971 was rarely used. “People should go to village courts if someone is accused of witchcraft or sanguma as they still have the jurisdiction to deal with sorcery cases,” she said. “In their regulations there is reference to a number of offences such as practising or pretending to practise sorcery, threatening another person with sorcery practised by another, possessing implement used to practised sorcery and paying or offering to pay a person to perform the act of sorcery. These are all provisions that were the Village Court Act 1974.” It is about time people’s mindset  should change and accept the fact that there are natural causes of death.

 

Bilum Industry Sustainable

Post-Courier, 30 October, 2015

Most of the times when men sell coffee and get their earnings, a small portion of this is given to the families and they get to keep the rest which usually does not last. Women on the other hand tend to keep the family together through the selling of their garden produce and since women in that particular region are known for their different styles of bilums, they sell that to earn money for the family which actually keeps them going. Ms Kamel said: “I am very thankful to take up the training which BEPA has facilitated to help us understand things such as colour theory, cataloguing and measurement. “Those were some of the things that I have been aiming for in this industry so that I would be able to train other women who are in my group to weave something that will be sold to meet expected demands from our clients both locally and internationally.” Ms Kamel said that, at the moment, women weave to sell at the local market to earn a kina that will actually sustain their family. And with what little knowledge that she has and has passed on to those women, she has helped them very much in getting most of their children in school. Today, if by chance you go to Goroka you will see that almost all of these women have their children in school while they concentrate on doing their sales for the sustainability of their families.

 

El Nino Hits Highlands Worse, Depletes Food Supplies

The National, 27 October

Farmers and people generally in the drought-affected Highlands region have less than two months before their livelihood worsens, says Simbu Governor Noah Kool. Kool said the El Nino issue was getting more serious and all stakeholders including the Government must put more emphasis on it as people’s lives were at stake with the depletion of food and water resources. Kool was part of a delegation from five highlands provincial governments that were in Port Moresby to get drought relief help from Kumul Petroleum Holdings. “The rivers are drying up and the people are starting to feel the effects. There is limited food available but in another two months the people will really suffer and people are likely to die, and that’s the seriousness of the drought in the provinces. We are looking for ways to equip ourselves so we can in turn help our own people,” Kool said. Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas when sharing Kool’s concern said the National Government should look at asking other countries for assistance. “We have been struggling and we have been asking the Government to see this as a very serious problem.

 

Kiloe: mining, curse and blessing

Solomon Star, 31 October 2015

CHOISEUL premier Jackson Kiloe says mining development in the country can be a curse or a blessing depending on how we do it. Premier Kiloe highlighted this at the national mining forum this week. “Whether its procedures are done thoroughly or inaccurate, this determines its outcome sooner or later with more dealings ahead,” said the Choiseul premier. He also expressed grave concern on how people consider money more important than the natural environment and resources as people with ignorant attitude foresee nothing in front but the dollar sign. “This is happening in every due process known and those responsible knew that very well, yet decide to go down the path of money matters more than life in the environment. “It is our call, for those who knew it’s wrong to go back home and inform the rural people of such self-fish attitude minded people,” Mr Kiloe stated. He noted the ignorant practice as such leading to even forgetting those rightful resource and landowners in negotiations. “There is more to life than just money. “People and the natural environment must be considered in any decisions around mining development,” he said. He urged mining forum participants to go home and share their new skills and knowledge so that our people can make wise decisions for their natural resources.

 

Papua New Guinea: Prosecute Domestic Violence
Women Often Ignored, Left Without Services, Pushed to Reconcile With Attacker
(Sydney, November 4, 2015) – Women and girls in Papua New Guinea are enduring brutal attacks from their partners, as government officials neglect survivors’ needs for safety, services, and justice, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Critical interventions for survivors, including protection measures and access to shelters, are not readily accessible or not available at all as a result of enforcement failures.
A 59-page report, “Bashed Up: Family Violence in Papua New Guinea,” documents systemic failures in how the government responds to domestic violence – failures which often leave women unprotected and subject to ongoing violence, even when they have gone to great lengths to seek help and justice.
Human Rights Watch research shows that police and prosecutors rarely pursue criminal charges against perpetrators, even in the most serious cases. Police often demand money from victims before they will act or simply ignore cases occurring in rural areas. Police appear reluctant to refer survivors for protection orders, and survivors who seek protection orders frequently encounter delays in the courts. These failures occur even in specialized family violence police units. ….
A network of activists across the country, many of them survivors of family violence themselves, have worked tirelessly both to assist individual victims and press the government for reform. The passage of the 2013 Family Protection Act is largely due to their efforts.
“Bashed Up: Family Violence in Papua New Guinea” is available at:
http://hrw.org/node/282527
For more Human Rights Watch reporting on women’s rights, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/topic/womens-rights
For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Papua New Guinea, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/asia/papua-new-guinea

Selected Testimonies
“I went to the police 17 times. I went every week for the last month. They said this is a domestic problem. They just told my husband not to do it again. I brought my husband to the police station and the police said, ‘You have so many kids – you should go back and not do this again.’ I wanted them to put him in jail for one or two years. So far I have two bones broken,” she said. “It’s very hard for me to find food for the kids and send them to school.”
–Jenella, age 39, mother of seven children, has gone back to her husband
“They arrested him and sent us both to counseling with the sergeant of the [specialized police unit]. We met twice. Nothing happened. My husband continued bashing me. In the presence of the police he agreed to stop, but in the home there was no change. He was hitting me between counseling sessions. I told the police he was still hitting me. They warned him that they would take him to court if he didn’t stop. I asked the police to help me get a protection order. They said they were too busy.”
–Kere, age 18, married for two years, mother of one child

“I decided to go back to him because of the children. He raped me again. He locked me in a room on Thursday and Friday. Then I managed to get away. I want to take him to court and get him kept away. I’m going to find a job and get my own home so I can get my children back. I want to stay away from my husband.”
–Grace, age 44, mother of seven children, staying in a safe house at the time of the interview

“I went to the police three times in 2012 and once in 2013. The first three times, the police just called my husband [he is a police officer himself]. They took a complaint the fourth time, but never arrested him. After that I thought, I can’t get help. I was just helpless. I even went to his supervisor and asked them to take his weapon. At times I just feel, gosh, that’s the end of the world for me.”
–Alice, age 38, mother of four children
Post-mortem as preventative medicine in Papua New Guinea: a case in point

http://www.rrh.org.au/publishedarticles/article_print_2861.pdf

In 2012 the author was working in Ok Tedi Hospital, Tabubil, a remote mining town in the Star Mountains of PNG. The area is notable for a recent rise in sorcery-related violence and murders since 2009. In March 2012 a family from a nearby village requested a post-mortem following a relative’s sudden death. They clearly stated that violence and killings against suspected perpetrators of sorcery had occurred due to a similar sudden death only a year before. As such they were concerned that the nature of their relative’s death would rouse suspicions of sorcery and result in violence. The family hoped that a medical explanation of their relative’s death would prevent rumours of sorcery developing and reduce the risk of violence against suspected perpetrators of sorcery.

Lessons learned: The post-mortem, led by a consultant surgeon and performed in Ok Tedi Hospital, Tabubil, concluded that death was due to complications from an acute myocardial infarction. As requested these results were presented at the funeral to a congregation of approximately 80 people. Following the funeral presentation the author received feedback that fears of sorcery had been alleviated and during a 2-week follow-up period no related violence against suspected perpetrators of sorcery was observed. This case is a unique and intriguing example of biomedical and sociocultural integration in the Highlands of PNG.

 

Health Worker Delivers Babies Using Torch

The National, 2nd November, 2015

A community health worker has told of how he delivered 21 babies during the night by using a torch. Wesley Atama, a community health worker serving in the remote Tsewi aid post in the Kome local level government, Menyamya, Morobe, said it was difficult to run an aid post in a remote area.  Atama said in 2013, he delivered 10 babies in the night using a torch. Last year, he delivered five babies at night. This year, he has so far delivered six babies in the dark. “When mothers come to me, I help them to deliver their babies because this is the only aid post in the area,” Atama said. He said there were cases of mothers dying because of birth complications. “We do not have a generator, solar-power or electricity supply. The aid post is run down and needs to be maintained. We carry our medical supplies and walk for a whole day from where the nearest road is,” Atama said .The Tsewi aid post, built in the 1970s, serves about 3000 people and 600 families. Atama and colleague Joshua Peter, who retired last Friday, serve up to 230 people daily. We cannot be operating like this to deliver using torces, here are people living and they deserve better health services than this run down aid post that we are operating to help them,”

 

Cop charged with rape

The National, Monday November 9th, 2015

A POLICE officer has been charged with the sexual assault on a female detainee at the Mendi police station in Southern Highlands. The policeman allegedly opened the cell and took the married woman out on the night of Oct 18 and raped her on the corridor of the female and male cell blocks. Provincial police commander Superintendent Sibron Papato told The National that the officer, who was on duty from 4pm to12am, promised to buy some food for the woman and took her out.

 

Businessman arrested. Involved in human trafficking

A CHIMBU businessman has been arrested and charged with human trafficking, deprivation of liberty and sexual penetration. The case involved 10 Boera villagers – eight girls and two boys – who were taken against their will to Chimbu Province in July as hired agents for a newly opened inn. They were returned to Port Moresby this week and back to their village, west of the capital. Police in the meantime arrested businessman Willie Gare, who owns Waghi Inn, and charged him with the three offences. Police said the young Motuans were allegedly held against their will and some subjected to sexual abuse and also used as entertainers for the inn patrons. Highlands Western Command Divisional Commander Teddy Tei said yesterday that the girls, between 16 and 20-years-old were allegedly flown to Lae on July 13 and driven to Chimbu where they allegedly entertained customers for the lodge’s opening dinner. According to the police yesterday, Mr Gare had promised to send them back but kept them for another two weeks, and then he never sent them back. After two months one of the girl’s and the boys escaped and reported the matter to the Salvation Army in Kundiawa, which assisted them to report the matter to police.

 

PNG’s 2016 emergency budget: the good, the bad and the unknown

http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2015/11/10/PNGs-2016-emergency-budget-the-good-the-bad-and-the-unknown.aspx. 10 November 2015

Last week the PNG government released its budget for 2016, taking extreme measures to move expenditure back in line with dramatically reduced revenue. The good news is this budget has staved off a full-blown cash flow and macroeconomic crisis. The bad news is the government avoided many hard choices, making deep cuts to core services while protecting big-ticket items. See url above for the full article.]

 

Abel: PNG can apply UN set goals

Post Courier, November 13, 2015

PAPUA New Guinea is confident of implementing the new Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, says National Planning and Monitoring Minister Charles Abel. Mr Abel told the recent celebration of the UN’s 70th anniversary that despite the failure of the Millennium Development Goals, much has been learnt from them. “The 17 SDGs are fundamental to the scrutiny, shape, structure, pillars, and programs of PNG’s poverty reduction efforts and the expenditure priorities implemented through the nation’s Medium Term Development Plan (MTDP) for 2016-17 and subsequent MTDPs,” he said. “PNG will ensure resources are available to implement the new SDGs as the current government is now more than ever conscious of its responsibilities.

“The Government of the day has invested significantly in sub national levels where frameworks were put in place to ensure these investments at those levels deliver results and bring about lasting and sustainable impact in PNG.” in the lives of all citizens,” Mr Abel said.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals set to end poverty by next 15 years period include No poverty; zero hunger; good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality; clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequalities; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; climate action; concern and protect life below water; protect and restore life on land; peace, justice and strong institutions; and partnerships for the goals.

 

Bougainville outlines plans as move to referendum accelerates

KEITH JACKSON http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/11/bougainville-outlines-plans-as-move-to-independence-referendum-accelerates.html

BOUGAINVILLE vice-president Patrick Nisira has announced further consultation plans for the autonomous region’s forthcoming referendum on independence.

Mr Nisira, speaking in his capacity as referendum minister, said consultations are continuing with civil war veterans in South, Central and North Bougainville as a precursor to a workshop for parliamentarians next Monday. “The purpose of this workshop will be to formulate a common position on the date of the referendum, the choices available – including the option of independence, a code of conduct for the referendum and the steps Bougainville will needs to take after the referendum,” Mr Nisira said. He stated these were important issues that needed to involve all Bougainville leaders.

“All elected leaders are called upon to provide leadership in each constituency to prepare Bougainville for the referendum, its successful conduct and the peaceful transition to the next stage,” he said.

Mr Nisira also announced that the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) will open a Mekamui office within the Bougainville administration to assist with the completion of reconciliation, unification and weapons disposal. The previous self-styled Mekamui government recently agreed to join forces with the ABG.

 

Children at risk, report says

The National, Tuesday November 17th, 2015

A REPORT from a survey conducted on street children in Port Moresby city shows that over 90 per cent of those interviewed were boys and less than 5 per cent were girls. It further revealed that over 50 per cent of the 101 interviewees’ parents originated from the Southern region, 29 per cent from Central and 25 per cent from Gulf. The parents of the other 46 per cent were from the Highlands provinces of Chimbu, Enga, Southern Highlands and Eastern Highlands, followed by a few from Mamose and New Guinea Islands.

According to the report findings, 16 per cent were categorised as most vulnerable children; their quality of life and ability to fulfil their potential was most affected by extreme deprivation and violations of their lives and often they lived in catastrophic situations and relationships.

The second category were neglected children (17 per cent) who were deprived of their basic needs by adult caretakers that had the means to provide for needs such as health, education and safe living conditions. The third category was children from poor households (43 per cent) whose parents or caregivers cannot afford to give their children their basic needs. The fourth group was those that faced a combination of unique social economic situations (24 per cent). Over 60 per cent of the street children come from 6 Mile, Konedobu and Gabutu/Sabama settlement areas. The children were found mainly selling items on the streets, begging and conducting traffic. Among children identified were those with special needs as well as those with sores and cuts to their bodies and needed medical help.

 

Koim: Real development will bring change

Post Courier, November 18, 2015

ANTI-CORRUPTION Investigation Taskforce Sweep chairman Sam Koim says Papua New Guinea needs real development to change the welfare and well-being of its people. Mr Koim told the people of Dei district in Western Highlands Province that while mothers and children cross rivers, climb mountains and walk through jungles to get medical help, their leaders are enjoying the bright lights of the cities, pretending that everybody is enjoying the same life they have. He said development falls into two categories – “rent seeking projects” and “real development. “Real development and rent seeking projects are two different things. Real development has the overall effect of improving poverty and raising the welfare and well-being of the entire country. But rent seeking projects are selected ‘white elephant’ projects in selected locations to extract economic rents for the benefit of a few individuals and corporations. These grand projects look impressive and that’s all they do – impress,” Mr Koim said. He said the country needs real development and not rent seeking projects built to impress the few individuals who will benefit from it. Mr Koim said rent seeking projects are taking place everywhere in the country where the Government spends millions of kina to impress and not addressing the real issues that are affecting them daily.

 

PNG in no rush to crack down on Asian logging giants

Post Courier, November 17, 2015

Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia. Papua New Guinea’s government has indicated it will allow intensive logging under the pretext of agricultural development to continue. Logging to clear land for agricultural use has allowed Asian companies to seize vast reserves of customary land under 99-year Special Agricultural Business Leases, or SABLs. Landholders and civil society groups have strongly criticised the leases, and the government has been promising to act on them for more than two years. But Rick Jacobsen from environmental monitoring group Global Witness said export data showed that this type of logging has expanded. “PNG’s log exports have greatly increased over the last few years because of logging under SABLs,” Mr Jacobsen said. “PNG is the largest tropical log exporter in the world, that trade is estimated to be worth $400 million a year and the country has, to date, demonstrated little capacity to oversee its forestry sector.” The SABLs sidestep the lengthy process to obtain a Forestry Management Agreement, which is normally needed to log an area, and instead allow land to be cleared for agricultural development. The companies are then able to sell the timber, which is usually far more lucrative than the proceeds of an agricultural venture.

 

Big Push For Legal Adoption Of Children

The National, 18th November, 2015

Adoption of children in PNG should be made legally through the courts to prevent child abuse, violence against children and resolve inheritance issues. Deputy Chief Magistrate Dessie Magaru told community policing officers in Kokopo when addressing a juvenile victim and witness workshop that many families in PNG continued to adopt children outside legal processes. That exposed children to risk of abuse, violence, trafficking and inheritance issues. Magaru said it was important for families intending to adopt a child to apply through the Family Courts. She said the legal adoption process ensured a child was protected from being victimised.

She said many adopted children in PNG had been affected during marriage break ups of families they were adopted into. However, she said that the law under the new LukautimPikinini Act outlined that adopted children in such situations were now entitled to maintenance from either parent.  “Mothers who desert their husbands and children can be taken to court and sued for maintenance of the children.”

 

Moresby South Sees Increase In TB Cases

Post Courier 18 November, 2015

The number of tuberculosis cases treated by a clinic in Moresby South has increased rapidly in the past three years, a doctor revealed yesterday. Dr Patrick Koliwan said the Kaugere Health Centre treated 267 TB cases in 2013, 347 cases last year and 400 cases so far this year. He said that while TB is a concern in provinces like Western, Gulf and Northern, it should be a cause for alarm in Port Moresby because those who have contracted TB are either not seeking treatment or not completing treatment. Dr Koliwan said that in 2013, Kaugere was seeing about 22 cases a month, in 2014 it was treating 29 cases a month and this year the figure has jumped to about 40 cases a month. “It is more serious than first thought, predicting that it will increase rapidly by 2016 and I’m sure the other clinics will also give their own increasing number of cases. The main problem is that people are not completing their daily TB treatment which lasts for six months. When you stop your treatment, the TB bacteria become resistant to all other medications and they are no longer effective,” he said.

 

Women march against homebrew: we will not suffer silently

20 November 2015 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/11/women-march-against-homebrew-we-will-not-suffer-silently.html#more

AFTER a Sunday service in October, the board of management of the local Haisi school in south Bougainville called for a public forum. To the surprise and dismay of parents, the head teacher announced that classes at the mission school were to be suspended. There was uproar and people demanded an explanation, especially since Grade 8 examinations were imminent. The head teacher said the previous night, while the Grade 8 students were at study, a group of drunken men from nearby villages entered school premises. When a Board member asked the drunks to leave, one ran at him with a long grass knife. Fortunately the Board member leapt aside and the blade struck a wall.

Many women then voiced their concern and fear of drunks roaming freely in the community and along the roadsides. They told how alcohol had an evil grip on the majority of able-bodied men in their families.After a lengthy discussion, three major resolutions were agreed by the majority of those present. Firstly, those involved in the Saturday night incident were to be interviewed, reprimanded and fined K50 each by the village chief. Secondly, other men who previously had been on the mission grounds under the influence of alcohol, whether creating a disturbance or otherwise, would be identified by their respective Village Authority Chiefs. They would be charged a certain amount to prevent the most recent culprits alleging that previous offenders have been let off lightly.

Finally, the women at that forum agreed to stage a peaceful march to places where jungle juice is brewed. There were three known locations and the date was set for the next day.

[For the rest of this story, see the url above]

 

Health system broken: Kimisopa

Post Courier, November 24, 2015

THE health system is “broken”, according to a hearing held last week in Port Moresby by special parliamentary committee on public sector reform and service delivery. The committee chairman Goroka MP Bire Kimisopa defined “broken” as any system that does not deliver outcomes that are acceptable. Mr Kimisopa said the health system demonstrably fails to deliver an acceptable standard of health care to the people. He said the committee also noted that there is no constant supply of basic drugs to public hospitals. It gave Port Moresby General Hospital as an example where a total of K5.4 million was spent on supply of drugs and consumables by the end of October but these purchased items were not available in the medical stores. The expenditure represented 20 per cent of the hospital’s operational budget. Mr Kimisopa said there is not a constant supply of required drugs to health centres and aid posts. “The 100 per cent kit sent out by the Health Department do supply items not required and items that are required are not available. “Moreover additional kits sent out on a regular basis when not required,” he said. Mr Kimisopa said this leads to stockpiles of unused surpluses and unwanted materials. …

 

Maternal Health In Papua New Guinea https://www.facebook.com/groups/326819464091972/permalink/892503310856915/

By Georgia Eccles, The Diplomat Magazine

Limited public healthcare and misinformation have given PNG the highest maternal mortality rate in the Asia-Pacific. The maternal mortality rate (MMR) in Australia is 1 in 10 000. In Singapore, it is 1 in 8000. In nearby Papua New Guinea, the lifetime risk of a mother dying during pregnancy remains 1 in 20. With some of the worst maternal mortality statistics in the world on Asia’s doorstep, and with the target year for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) approaching, the time has come for the Asia-Pacific region to critically reflect on how to respond to consistently dire statistics with an effective coordinated response that aligns with the SDG agenda. Since 2000, the fifth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) has sought to improve maternal health through a) a reduction by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015, of the maternal mortality rate as well as b) universal access to reproductive healthcare by 2015. Globally, improvements were made over this period, with a halving of the global MMR, a reduction in maternal health complications, as well as acknowledgement of the need for adequate maternal health education. Papua New Guinea has, however, defied the trend with one of the most consistently poor maternal and infant mortality rates in the Asia-Pacific. If Papua New Guinea’s MMR had achieved the MDG target reduction stipulated in Goal 5.a., then the MMR would have been 98 deaths per 100,000 live births. Instead, from 2008-2012, it sat at approximately 703 deaths per 100,000 live births. This number indicates a failure to adequately address the underlying local issues. Although it is a complex issue, the primary obstacles to reducing maternal mortality in Papua New Guinea include the inaccessibility of adequate maternal health care facilities and the lack of sociocultural awareness of the difficulties women endure during pregnancy and childbirth. One of the most devastating facts about MMRs is that the majority of deaths can be prevented. ….

 

Govt fails to deliver K40 million for TB

Post Courier, November 23, 2015

TUBERCULOSIS is fast spreading but it has yet to be given the attention it needs by the National Government, an international conference was told yesterday. National Emergency Taskforce on TB chair Dr Paison Dakulala said the emergency plan was for 12 months which had lapsed but the funding support for K40 million was not given even though it was approved by the Government.

Of this amount, K17.7 million for South Fly/Daru in Western Province was to have come from tax from Ok Tedi mine but is now locked due to an ongoing court battle. The conference heard that Daru Island still has high rates of multi-drug resistant TB and drug-resistant TB although a lot of progress has been made to control the spread, with donor funding support, mostly from the Australian Government. Dr Dakulala’s team has decided to extend the emergency plan for the next 12 months and is calling on the Government to release the K40 million to implement its plan.

 

New kidnapping trend in Pom

Post Courier, November 25,2015, 08:00 am

The new kidnapping trend of young children on roadsides or busy markets has raised concern among Port Moresby City residents. Post-Courier found a 12 year old victim who managed to escape the captors. The boy, of Gulf and Manus, was walking down from his home at Konedobu Ranuguri community to his uncle’s market to get his father’s mobile phone when the incident happened. It was around 7 pm on Monday lastweek, when the young fellow was snatched off the footpath, near the Australian High Commission Residential brick wall, by a big man who put his hand over the boy’s mouth and dragged him into a 15 seater white bus.

He nervously told The Post-Courier that he noticed a white man sitting offside with a tattoo on his right arm, while the other four accomplices were Papua New Guineans of Highlands origin, and describe to be big. The vehicle then made its way up the Laws road and exit towards the Touaguba Residential area. It was when he noticed another man with a syringe injector that he bit the hand of the man covering his mouth and jumped out of the moving vehicle.

Another similar incident occurred on Saturday afternoon when a young mother and her toddler were getting out of the taxi after shopping when a blue ten seater stopped, pulled the child into the vehicle and took off. Other incidents of child kidnapping reports have gone viral on social media and the stories seems to be true.

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