Social Concerns Notes – January 2015

PNG’s ‘paradox of plenty’ outlined in UN report

http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/about-massey/news/article.cfm?mnarticle_uuid=B66733E8-CE19-295B-6262-30E52AF133FE

Transferring massive mining industry profits into improving the health, education and wellbeing of a struggling population is a key challenge for Papua New Guinea, says the author of a new UN report.

Glenn Banks, an associate professor in Development Studies in Massey University’s School of People, Environment and Planning, was lead author of the Papua New Guinea National Human Development Report 2014: From Wealth to Wellbeing: Translating Resource Revenue into Sustainable Human Development, for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In it, he identifies the “paradox of plenty” and the “resource curse” as a features of the PNG economy, which is leading the world in economic growth rates with predictions it will increase by 20 per cent next year. Meanwhile, nearly half the population is living at or below a ‘basic needs’ poverty line.

The report reviews the state of human development in Papua New Guinea in terms of the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental. It examines the ways in which the extractive industries have contributed – positively and negatively – to these related but distinct pillars.

“While there have been some measurable achievements in terms of improvements in human development (increases in life expectancy, per capita income and educational achievement), many of the indicators are less positive,” the report states. “Despite 14 consecutive years of economic growth, there has been little change in poverty levels in the country. In fact, the level of inequality in the country has increased.”

Dr Banks, who been closely involved with the Pacific nation for more than two decades as a development researcher, says the 109-page report highlights the significant opportunities from an economic boom based on the mining of gold, silver, copper, cobalt, nickel, crude petroleum and natural gas.

Mining and oil production has reaped US$60 billion since independence 40 years ago. But 40 per cent of PNG’s seven million mostly rural population – scattered in rugged, jungle territory across 600 islands and where more than 800 languages are spoken – live on less than a dollar a day. In other key indicators, 25 per cent of children do not attend any form of schooling, and PNG ranks in the bottom 10 countries for gender equality, with two out of three women having experienced gender-based violence over their lifetime. While large scale mine and oil production has underpinned a number of health and education developments, it has also “sparked civil strife, caused massive environmental damage, arguably distorted the economy, and brought about a range of negative impacts on communities,” according to the report.

Read the full UN report here. http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/final_png_nhdr.pdf Report

Tuna dwindling in pacific waters

Post Courier, January 07, 2015

As 2015 begins, the issue of managing the Pacific’s dwindling tuna stocks remains at the top of the agenda for many countries, especially Papua New Guinea. The general consensus is that no substantial progress was made at the meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries in Samoa late last year which has resulted in little to no improvement in the dire situation of dwindling tuna populations in Pacific waters. The Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association has even gone so far as to suggest the commission doesn’t have the confidence of its members to manage the Pacific’s tuna fisheries, in other words, the foremost authority on the tuna industry says the situation is uncontrollable.

Obstacles keep doctors from rural postings

Post Courier 29 December 2014

Significant obstacles stopping doctors being posted to rural areas include law and order, poor housing, rundown facilities, lack of appropriate education, training and opportunities in PNG, says a university academic and medical doctor. Dr David Mills, University of Papua New Guinea academic and president of the PNG Society of Rural and Remote Health, said in a recent presentation that these factors are also faced in urban areas around the country. He said the experience in PNG suggests that there are also other factors, such as the fear of missing out on specialist training places and poor communications (and especially lack of access to the internet). The very low number of doctors being trained each year (currently less than 50) also means that rural job opportunities can often be ignored in favour of more attractive options in town, Dr Mills said. He recommended that the Government makes a decision that health services in PNG must be developed in an equitable fashion. “It is immoral to put millions of kina into developing expensive hospitals in cities while closing aid posts and starving basic rural health services,” he said. “The health kina is finite. It must be divided in an equitable manner – no one human being is of more value than another. “We need to reverse the devastating change in medical culture that has occurred in PNG, bringing the balance back between rural general practice and town specialist and private practice,” said Dr. Mills.

 

Witchcraft allegations creating refugee crisis, government officials say

Post Courier, January 06, 2015

Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia: Witchcraft allegations  have forced so many women to flee their villages in Enga province that one local government worker said that it is creating a refugee problem. The latest reports were about four women and 13 children in danger after being identified as witches in the Hewa language area of Enga province. A Lutheran missionary up in the Highlands, Anton Lutz, said he knew of at least 25 women killed over the past 10 years after being accused of sorcery in the region, with no arrests being made. The women fled to a location so remote it would take a flight and a three-day hike to reach. Ruth Kissam, a youth coordinator for the Western Highlands provincial government, said some groups were trying to send help. “I believe the churches are coming together on this, trying to send teams in, but the [police] response to me was they do not have funding to be able to go in,” she said. Ms Kissam said the police and government had to step in to deal with what she insisted was a national crisis. “This place is very isolated and there is no police presence in the area – they have a council, but the council are also local people from the area who believe in witches and all that, so basically you wouldn’t have any people on the ground that would be impartial.” She said local authorities needed support from the national government. “They aren’t able to do anything right now. Unless they are able to get something, try to get the commissioner and the people higher up to respond to this as a matter of national urgency.” Witchcraft allegations are forcing so many women to flee their villages in the country that one local government official says it is creating a refugee problem. Ms Kissam said the belief in sorcery and witchcraft was spreading and destroying communities and that many people were fleeing their villages, something “totally unheard of” in their culture. “There are lots of people right now within the Hewa-speaking region, [fleeing their villages] … simply because of accusations and they know they will be killed. “So in a way, you have sanguma [sorcery] refugees.” Ms Kissam said the belief in witches and sorcery was spreading across the country. “The worst thing is new beliefs are popping up – in places like Enga province, which is now quite a hotspot. “The [belief in witches] had never been there before, but now they’re becoming some of the worst perpetrators right across the country,” she said, adding that they were responsible for killing Kepari Leniata in February 2013. “Most of the targeted women are people with no male relatives to stand up for them or people living on fringes of society.”

Sorcery culture spreads in Enga

Post Courier, January 12, 2015

SORCERY or witchcraft, once unknown in Enga Province, is spreading like wildfire into all the districts of the province, targeting women, especially widows, and children are the cause.

In the past generations, Engans solve their problems through dialogue or open physical confrontation, not through witchcraft, or sanguma, as has been the growing trend in recent times. Sorcery has now become a big law and order problem, Enga’s police commander George Kakas said at the weekend, adding there was an increase in the number of Engans being branded sorcerers, accused of deaths which have occurred naturally or through accidents. Acting Superintendent Kakas said the “sorcerers” were mainly poor middle-aged or widowed women and their children who could not fend for themselves. “In recent cases in Wabag district alone, I had to personally intervene with my men to save six women and a child who were on the verge of being burnt alive on a pyre, tortured to death or drowned in the river,” he said. “In all these instances, all the accused were accused of stealing the hearts of their victims while they are still alive, causing them to die. “The latest incident was in Lakemanda village (my maternal village) in Wabag where a woman and her child were accused of stealing the heart of a grade 10 student who had fallen off a Pandanus tree and was impaled on a sharp coffee tree stump,” he said. Supt Kakas has appealed to Engans not to allow the imported belief of sorcery, or sanguma, to wreak havoc on the social fabrics of a sorcery-free tradition of the Engan culture that was handed down from generation to generation. “How could simple village women and children take out a heart of a living, breathing person, when this can only be performed by specialist heart surgeons in surgery in modern hospitals in developed countries? “I urge them to go to church and believe in the good Lord above and they will find their answers there and not in some concocted abomination created from the figment of one’s imagination or from some foreign and evil culture,” Supt Kakas said. The provincial police chief also warned that those involved in kangaroo courts and extra-judiciary killings over sorcery claims would face the full force of the law.

Witchcraft killings in Papua New Guinea to be condemned at community meeting

Post Courier, January 15, 2015   Story Courtesy of ABC radio Australia

Church and community leaders from Papua New Guinea have organised a meeting this weekend with locals from the Hewa language area, in a remote part of Enga province, in an attempt to stop the killing of people accused of witchcraft. A group of nine people from the nearby Wanakipa settlement, decided to hold the discussions after four women were accused of sorcery. However, the witch finder or glass-man who made the claims has since retracted them and said she was pressured to make the allegations. A Lutheran missionary in the Highlands, Anton Lutz who has helped organise the meeting, told Pacific Beat the meeting would hopefully encourage people to come to the realisation that killing alleged witches was wrong. He said organisers hoped the talks would culminate with a ceremony where arrows used to kill alleged witches would be broken. “It would involve breaking the arrows, which are being used to kill people, and giving a gift of arrows to the other group of arrows that are used to hunt animals for food,” he said. “So giving up a way of accusations of murder, in favour of a life of peace.” Mr Lutz said the witch finder who retracted the accusations she made against four women has agreed to be filmed saying she was wrong and this will be used at the community forum. “She is willing and ready to take back her accusations and tell everyone openly how she was pressured into making those accusations and that they are in fact baseless and have no grounds whatsoever,” he said. “So she is going to be making that statement on camera, and we are going to show that to the community where she made the accusations.”

PNG women accused of witchcraft freed ABC news

By Bruce Hill, ABC News, Tue 20 Jan 2015

Women were accused of practising sorcery (or ‘sanguma’), after a measles epidemic killed several people in Enga province last year. They and their children were in danger of being murdered, but an expedition into a remote area of the province by missionaries and police has led to local people formally renouncing such violence. Enga province’s police deputy commander Epenes Nili said a so-called “witch-finder”, who had made the allegations against the women, publicly withdrew them.

“She was hired [by locals] with 6,000 kina (approximately $2,800),” he said. “The people from that area gathered around and forced her to tell them that the four women [had] ‘sanguma’. “Because of the money and gifts and all that, she lied to the people of Fiyawena that the four women were possessed with this ‘sanguma’ spirit.” They kept the women and their children in a guarded area, ready to be murdered, he added. Deputy commander Nili also said the local people released the women and formally renounced such violence in a stone-turning ceremony.”We witnessed a ceremony there … then they get a stone and [they] have to turn over that stone – that is an indication or sign that you will never repeat, or you will never be involved in such activity,” deputy commander Nili told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat.

The “witch-finder” also participated in the ceremony. “She turned a stone around, informing the authorities, the church, everyone of us that she will not [get] involved in that thing again and she accepted the word of God,” deputy commander Nili said. Church leaders in PNG have been fighting against the belief in sorcery for years. Arnold Orowae, the Catholic bishop of Wabag, went so far as to threaten any Catholic involved in violence against accused witches with excommunication.

“This shouldn’t happen — we’re not in the times before … we shouldn’t be accusing and torturing or even killing people. “I’m not happy hearing about this torturing of innocent, defenceless [people], especially women.”

Bishop sends out distress call for Goilala

Post Courier, January 14, 2015

VARIOUS arms of government have been urged to take the lead in assisting remote communities in the mountainous district of Goilala in Central Province. This cry for assistance was made yesterday by the Catholic Bishop of Bereina Rochus Tatamai. Bishop Rochus said basic services such as health, education and pastoral presence were needed in these areas. Missionaries, public servants as well as ordinary people have died over the years while trying to provide services to the people up in the mountains while travelling on light planes. “There is no other way around for places like Guari-Kamulai, Fane, Ononghe, Jongai and Kerau, but through flying into the mountains on small planes,” the Bishop said. Bishop Rochus raised his concern following the plane crash in September last year that killed four people and left five others injured. The aircraft was on charter to the church with much needed supplies for Goilala and was returning to Port Moresby when it crashed in bad weather. He said while the Church was present in the Goilala area, it was not capable of delivering all the needed services due to limited resources and the geographical circumstances of the area. “Priests, teachers and health workers can only do so much and they can only cope with so much for so long. “Adding that political will and leadership as well as commitment and action were needed in the electorate so that people from these remote parts would feel they were included in national development. “It is for this reason that we are calling upon the various arms of government to take the lead and we will surely complement,” he said. The Bishop’s call comes as the official Vatican News Network announced at the weekend that the Vatican took note of murders last May of Father Jerry Inau and communion minister Benedict in the Goilala mountains of Kamulai as the result of inter-tribal tensions. It reported the Vatican noting that the killers had not been caught and brought to justice.

Forgotten report: Taskforce Sweep’s recommendations for reducing corruption in PNG

DevPolicy Blog.   By Grant Walton on December 17, 2014

In October this year, Papua New Guinea’s Taskforce Sweep released the findings of its investigation into inadequacies of oversight of key government departments. During his recent visit I asked Sam Koim, head of Taskforce Sweep, to nominate the most important recommendation of the report. Without hesitation he said that PNG’s banking sector needed the most amount of attention.

He said: Fraud and money laundering is occurring because the banks are allowing it. If you regulate the banking industry properly, corruption would not occur as easily. In the report Koim calls for commercial banks to take a proactive stance in reporting suspicious activity and closing accounts. He suggests that PNG’s Proceeds of Crime Act (2005) [pdf] should include guidelines for financial institutions to conduct due diligence on transactions relating to court judgements and legal fees – a source of alleged large-scale corruption in PNG.

Koim was also concerned about the Central Bank of PNG – known as the Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG). His investigation found that suspicious payments by the Department of Finance were cleared by BPNG, without due diligence. The introduction of an electronic transfer system in October 2013 has reduced the likelihood of BPNG officials checking payments. He therefore calls for BPNG to establish an anti-money laundering division, and for BPNG to work with the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit to review its newly established electronic payment system.

There has been little response by the government to the report. In fact, given that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has been implicated in accusations of corruption related to the payment of legal fees, and that he has ordered Taskforce Sweep be disbanded, it’s likely the government would prefer the report be forgotten. All the more reason to click on this link [pdf], and download it.

Disabled remain isolated

The National, 12th Jan, 2015

People living with disabilities in the country continue to be ostracised by society. Rehabilitation Centre chairman Brown Kapi says. Kapi is confined to a wheelchair but continues to host the popular “Wheels for change” programme on Kundu 2. Last Saturday, he received food and other items worth more than K13,000 from members of the PNG Methodist Church.“In most cases, people with disabilities are not educated, they are not sent to school simply because they are disabled,” he said. “In PNG culture, people think that this is a curse or something, and they hold them back. “You’ll find that most people with disabilities are illiterate, they can’t read or write, and therefore are very limited.”Kapi said the work of the centre was giving hope to the disabled.“Today, the Government and people are seeing that despite their disabilities, they are human beings,” he said.“They can go to school, they can do business, they can get married, they can do other things. “It’s slowly happening. People like me are trying to push that agenda.“We are Papua New Guineans, we have a right, and you are obligated to us. That’s what we are saying.”Kapi thanked the church members for their assistance.“When you come in like this and support us, you are making others see that churches like the Methodists are extending the love of God to people with disabilities,” he said.“This is the first donation for this year. This is the biggest donation in kind so far.”He said the items would be shared by disabled people in the National Capital District.

Hospital crippled as nurses contract drug resistant TB

Post Courier, January 20, 2015

NINE nurses at Daru General Hospital in Western Province have contracted the multi-drug resistant strain of tuberculosis, forcing the rest of the hospital staff to stage a sit-in protest yesterday for better protection at work. One nursing officer is on extreme drug resistance treatment for the strain of the disease, which poses a greater risk to life and is currently out of control. The hospital’s executive officer Colin Ananga, who spoke on behalf of the acting chief medical officer Dr Naomi Pomat, said the other eight nurses were currently on the multi-drug-resistant (MDR) treatment. As the disease paralysed services at the hospital yesterday, the remaining hospital staff protested, supporting widespread fear on the island that the TB epidemic, rampant in the province, will spread among the hospital workers. The Health Department had declared Western Province, including Daru, a hotspot for TB together with neighbouring Gulf, the National Capital District, and parts of Central Province.

Australia and the World Health Organisation would be equally concerned about developments in Daru as they spent millions of kina to upgrade the hospital’s TB ward to treat the disease and in a bid to stop patients from travelling to Queensland to seek treatment. The protesting workers called on provincial leaders, stakeholders and members of the public to be aware that Western Province was a leading hot spot for TB in the country. People classified as MDR patients are second-stage sufferers who are bound for a 24-month-long treatment which is expensive.

Family, Sexual Violence Rate High

The National, 13th Jan, 2015

Studies have shown that the rate of family and sexual violence in the country is high, according to a humanitarian organisation. Medecins sans Frontiers (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders is an international humanitarian medical organisation. MSF head of mission Elisabeth Bijtelaar said the organisation began providing medical services for survivors of family sexual violence, general violence, emergency medical care and tuberculosis service in Kerema, Gulf. She said the progress achieved in recent years had been positive. But there were still problems to be addressed. “MSF first started in PNG in the 1990s, and currently in partnership with Health Department structures in Tari, Southern Highlands, Port Moresby, Maprik in East Sepik, Kerema in Gulf and Alotau in Milne Bay, to provide care to a wide range of patients,” she said. She said in recent years, PNG had taken promising steps towards an effective response to family and sexual violence. However, more was needed to provide victims access to quality confidential medical and psychosocial care as well as the legal, social and protective services they needed.

Widow tells of struggle to give children education

The National, Monday January 19th, 2015

WITH school starting soon, there are still many, who will struggle to send their children to school even with the free education policy. Bea Miring is one such person. Miring is a widow who lives at Badili, Port Moresby. She sells cucumber and peanut on the roadside markets to support her son and two grandsons’ schooling. Miring is from Goroka and her late husband is from Morobe, who died in the late 1990s. A week after her husband’s death, her daughter died from AIDS, and her husband died a month later. Her daughter and husband left behind two little boys Gatos and Brendon Benny, who she raised. Miring’s only income is what she makes from roadside markets. Miring said: “I will pay the project fees for my three boys from the market savings but I am unsure of how or where I will get the money to buy their uniforms. “First they used to wear slippers to school but because the school sends them back I have to struggle to find money to buy their shoes as well for this year.” She said she wants three of her boys to go to school. Miring was recently arrested by police officers for selling mustard that she harvested in her backyard but was released when police heard that she just wanted to make money to feed her son and grandsons. She said: “I knew it was wrong for me to sell mustard as there was buai ban, but we had not eaten for two days. School is starting soon and I had to make an income. So I harvested the mustard from my backyard and went down to the market to sell them when I was arrested.” “It is only by God’s grace that my boys and me have come this far.” Her son and one of her grandsons will be doing Grade 8 this year, while the other grandson will be in Grade 10.

Settlement people face water problems due to dry season

The National, Monday January 19th, 2015

PEOPLE in Lae living in settlements and certain parts of the city are facing water problems because of the dry season. They depend mostly on rainwater and water from nearby streams for their daily use.

Those affected are residents living along the Miles section, Malahang Back Road along the Assmambu market to Situm,  Bundi Camp, Naweab settlement and Kamkumung settlement. Lae has been experiencing dry weather in the past three months. Some of the residents are relying on relatives and friends who have water supply to provide them with water. Thomas Mua said his family had been helping a family living at Malahang Back Road by transporting three water tanks to their home.

“Most of the residents in settlements and locals along back road and Situm depend entirely on rainwater,” hesaid. “When it rains, families there are happy because it means water for them. They use nearby streams for washing and sanitation purposes. “But for drinking and cooking, they depend on rain water.” He said if families were forced to use the stream for sanitation, cooking and drinking, they would expose themselves to water-borne diseases.

Asylum seekers may come to Bomana

The National, Thursday January 22nd, 2015

MORE than 40 asylum seekers detained in jail or in police station cells on Manus may be transferred to Bomana prison outside Port Moresby, a Government source says. The asylum seekers were arrested after security personnel broke through barricades erected at the entrance to a cell block at the detention centre on Monday. The source said Correctional Service management was concerned about the transfer, given the security problem caused by the prisoners. But Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato had already signed the instruments for the transfer last month. “The way I see it, 40 or 50 asylum seekers will be flown to Port Moresby,” he said. “This has caused concern among senior management at Correctional Service because of the security of our own prisoners. “They (asylum seekers) will be coming (to Bomana) this weekend, if not, next week.”The source said Pato, on Dec 15, 2014, signed instruments for Bomana Jail, Manus Jail, Manus police lock-up, and the Manus detention centre “to be relocation centres for the temporary residence of asylum seekers pending the determination of their refugee status under Papua New Guinea law”. “He (Pato) is empowered under the Immigration Act to make such declarations,” he said. Radio Australia reported yesterday that asylum seekers at the Manus detention centre had vowed to continue their hunger strike.

“Late on Monday, private security guards forced their way into a compound, which had been blockaded for three days,” ABC reported. “Asylum seekers say as long as they remain in PNG, they won’t stop protesting.”

Asylum seekers given option

The National, Wednesday January 21st, 2015

ASYLUM seekers on Manus who refuse to be re-settled in Papua New Guinea will be assisted to return to their country of origin, a Government official says. Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura said Australia had made it very clear to everyone that it would not accept any asylum seeker from the Manus regional processing centre to enter that country. Rabura was in Manus yesterday to resolve a protest staged by the asylum seekers who had been angry about the delay in the processing of their applications. Australia made a deal with Papua New Guinea to have the refugees processed at the Manus centre, and anyone eligible for resettlement will be offered the opportunity to do so in PNG.

“The Government has committed itself to combatting people smuggling, trafficking of persons and related transnational crime and entered into an agreement with Australia that it will play its part by processing and settling refugees in PNG,” Rabura said. He had earlier been directed by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to assume leadership of the Manus facility from contractors. He was to execute his authority as designated administrator of the Manus centre to implement a plan to resolve the protest.

Immigration and Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato said after taking control of the situation, Rabura allowed security personnel to enter the compound and “assist any  who did not want to be there”. “A few agitators sought to prevent the removal of ill people but were restrained by security personnel,” Pato said.

Church takes up cause on asylum seekers

Post Courier, January 16, 2015

THE Catholic Bishops Conference has called on the Government to work closely with Australia to speed up the process of granting asylum to people at the regional processing centre on Manus Island.

The bishops made the call after 400 asylum seekers at the Australian-run centre went on a hunger strike and 15 men sewed their lips in protest to their treatment, as reported on ABC Radio this week.

“The hunger strike has to stop and normalcy must be returned to the asylum seekers centre. Their demands must be screened properly and looked into because they are human beings like you and me,” said John Ribat, the Archbishop of Port Moresby and deputy chairman of PNG Council of Churches.

He said the situation at Manus has been of concern, since the decisions were made by the two governments to bring the asylum seekers to PNG for processing. Archbishop Ribat said “PNG Government cannot just keep quiet and allow such situations to continue when it is its moral responsibility to take care of these people. “We also do not want the world to continue seeing us as an irresponsible and careless nation,” he said. He said the big questions were: Which country was in charge of the asylum seekers, and if PNG was, could it handle the situations. “We, the churches, are calling on the governments of PNG and Australia to do something about it. “We know that it is the Government’s responsibility but the churches also have a place in taking up responsibility and share their concerns about the situation,” he said. “Right now they are put in the situation where they are not free to make decisions themselves. They want freedom like all of us do.” “The process is taking years. Australia and PNG must speed up this process and allow them to live their own life,” he said.

Media statement by CBC on the protest by the Manus asylum seekers. 16 January, 2015

ABC Radio had the news on 14 January about the protest in the Offshore processing centre in Manus Island. “15 people have sewn their lips together and 400 men are on hunger strike”. They want their cases to be processed soon or handed over to the United Nations.

Australian Immigration Department has confirmed that the detainees were protesting.

The Catholic Bishops Conference is deeply concerned about the safety of the asylum seekers who are in the camps in Lorengau. They have been staying there for about 18 months without any trial. They are not criminals. They want the process to be speeded up.

The asylum seekers want to go to Australia and not to PNG. It is not good to keep them in PNG soil. PNG is responsible for their physical and mental well being.

The Catholic Church sought permission to meet the asylum seekers on a regular basis. But this was not granted by the Immigration authorities in Manus.

CBC wants the PNG government to work together with the Australian Government to speed up the process of granting asylum to the people. It is a humanitarian need.

The hunger strike has to be stopped and normalcy to be returned to the Asylum seekers centre. Their demands have to be screened properly and looked into. They are human beings. The responsibility is on the PNG Government to solve it with the help of the Australian Government. It is our moral responsibility. CBC calls on the Prime Minister to look into the issue before it gets out of control.

The disgrace of Australia’s Manus concentration camp continues

19 January 2015 asopa.typepad.com

HUNDREDS of inmates have gone on hunger strike at the Manus detention centre.  Some have attempted self-harm by sewing their lips together and swallowing detergent and razor blades.

At first the Australian government denied there were any such problems, but repeated reports have confirmed that the situation is extremely serious and the new minister Peter Dutton is “looking into the matter.” Another riot seems imminent. The Papua New Guinea government has just issued a statement denying that local police stormed the Manus Island detention centre. Fairfax Media reports that it was the emergency response team from Wilson Security who are sub-contractors to the Australian government. As the number of asylum seekers staging a hunger strike grows to over 500 and water has been cut off in parts of the facility, inmates are being forced to drink from drains. It is believed a number of asylum seekers have barricaded themselves inside their compounds as part of the protest.

PNG’s Immigration Minister, Rimbink Pato calls the refugee advocates “agitator groups” which doesn’t seem calculated to calm things down.  Refugee advocates have called for United Nations intervention. Reports state that a number of protesting asylum seekers were taken to the Chauka compound over the weekend (think ‘the cooler’ in The Great Escape), which is a smaller compound used to discipline asylum seekers acting aggressively. Inmates also claimed to have received death threats against those seeking to move to a half-way house in Lorengau.

You can read more reports about the situation here and here.

Vital HIV drugs not available for months

Post Courier, January 21, 2015

SUPPLIES of the two first-line drugs for antiretroviral therapy (ART) have run out and there is no indication they will be replenished soon. HIV advocate Maura Elaripe called on the media yesterday to find out why these drugs were no longer available and current users had been on alternate drugs and were developing serious side effects. She also said people on these drugs treatment should not be dying unnecessarily but recently there had been an increase in the deaths of people living with HIV. She did not give figures. “I don’t know what is happening. I am raising this alarm for the sake of those living in the provinces,’’ she said, adding that she gets her supply from Heduru Clinic at Port Moresby General Hospital but that clinic was out of stock. Jotely Nogone, Hope Worldwide’s HIV case officer at the Lawes Road Clinic, said that there are no Tenofovir and Lamivudine drugs supplies left in the country. “Yes, it is true, we can change the drugs but it is not easy. It could kill a patient,’’ said Ms Nogone. “We have been waiting for two months. We are lucky because we ordered extra,” she said in relation to the last order which was about three months ago. Ms Nogone, who prescribes HIV drugs as well as counsels people with HIV, said that due to ARV treatment, people were living longer, were healthier and lived normal lives, including getting married and having children who are HIV negative.

Countrywide, there are about 30,000 people on ARV treatment, of which 250 are from Lawes Road and 5000 are registered with Heduru clinic. Attempts to get comments from the Health Department have not been successful. Officers have referred comments to Health Secretary Pascoe Kase who is currently on leave.

Abuse of girls on the rise

The National, Thursday January 22nd, 2015

THERE is an increase in reported incidents of child abuse involving girls below 18, acting Juvenile Justice and Monitoring officer-in-charge Anna Wills says. She said on average, they are dealing with three to four cases each week. Wills said there could be more unreported cases. She said the police juvenile centre at Boroko had placed a number of children with the Welfare Office. They were the ones who turned up at the station or were found in the city, Wills said. These children have been subjected to parental or guardian neglect, abandoned or deserted as a result of broken marriages or abandonment, she said.  Wills said the children were picked up while sleeping in front of shops and offices and brought to the police station. Victims do not come forward to report these matters because they do not know where to go and what would happen to them,” she said. Wills urged victims to report such matters to the police juvenile centre at Boroko. She said some victims had already found out about the juvenile centre’s services and were starting to come forward. Will said the role of the juvenile centre was vital to correct such problems, which could have detrimental effects in their lives in future. “There is a lot of work to be done and more officers are needed,” she said.

Crowded jails blamed

The National, Thursday January 22nd, 2015

CORRECTIONAL Service Minister Jim Simatab has blamed the overcrowding in prisons for the increasing number of breakouts. He said overcrowding could be solved if the justice system dealt effectively and efficiently with the cases of remand prisoners. “Overcrowding in our jails is largely due to the ever increasing number of citizens held on remand. These people can often wait for more than three years in jail before their court cases are resolved,” he said. “Often they are not found guilty. Justice delayed is justice denied. They are in prison for a long time for  something they did not do.

“In the past five years, more than 80 per cent of escapees are those on remand. “Now you can fully appreciate why they take such risks. They have not been found guilty. So why labour around the prison?” he said. “To address this issue, the support and cooperation of the police prosecution and courts are needed to fast-track these cases.” Records show the total prison population in the country is 4622 – 2957 convicted prisoners and 1665 remanded in custody.

Support sought for widows sending children to school

The National, Thursday January 22nd, 2015

A HUMAN rights activist has called on the Government to address the issues of widows who are struggling to send children to school. Mathilda Pilacapio made the call in response to the story of a widow’s struggle to give her children education in The National. “How many mothers are out there with the same plight?” “Government must intervene and do something,” she said.

Pilacapio said one of her three boys may become a leader in the future and must be given a chance.

“Our Melanesian culture is based on sharing and caring. So we must help our children.” She said the current education is subsidised and not free. “Parents still have to pay project fees and buy uniforms and shoes and stationeries for their children,” Pilacapio said. “They would have to give them bus fares and lunch money.” She said the Government must step in and help the children, especially the disadvantaged so that they don’t miss out on education. “Every child has a right to be educated,” she said.

Solomon Islands PM embraces crooked Chinese company based in PNG

PNG exposed blog. January 22, 2015

Prime Minister Sogavara and China Habour GM in Honiara. A crooked Chinese company based in PNG is reaching out to the Solomon Islands government in search of new contracts. The General Manager of China Harbour Engineering Company recently met with the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare. Mr Sogavara, who described China Harbour Engineering as a ‘reputable’ company and ‘genuine investor’, seems unaware the firm has been blacklisted by the World Bank for fraud and condemned by the courts in Bangladesh and the government in Jamaica.

In case Mr Sogavara has not been properly briefed, here is a ‘greatest hits’ list that highlights China Harbour Engineering’s disconcerting record: China Harbour Engineering Company’s parent company, and all its subsidiaries (including its PNG subsidiaries), have been blacklisted until 12/1/2017 by the World Bank for all contracts related to roads and bridges, owing to “fraudulent practices” (Source: World Bank 2011). The courts in Bangladesh found that China Harbour Engineering Company paid bribes to the son of the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, who was then sentenced to six years in prison. (Source: The Hindu 2011). In 2012 an Audit was conducted by the Jamaican government into two major infrastructure projects, one of which was awarded to China Harbour Engineering Company. The Minister for Transport, Works and Housing claimed, “The report from the forensic auditor has unearthed wanton disregard for the conventions and procedures established by the Government of Jamaica for project implementation, administration and management. These breaches of existing procurement guidelines have drained precious budgetary resources and undermined the very foundation of public institutional integrity” (Source: Caribbean Analysis 2012). China Habour Engineering Company negotiated with the Cayman Islands Premier to build and run a major port facility. This deal was stopped, when the UK government blew the whistle over the procurement arrangements. Later it was revealed the process had been fast tracked by the Premier, in violation of legal process (Source: CayCompass 2013).

NGO gives city children chance in Education

The National, 20th January 2015

A group of 40 disadvantaged children from around Port Moresby under the care of “Life PNG Care” attended a back-to-school orientation last Saturday. They will return to school under the “Strongim Pikinini” programme of Life PNG Care, a non-government organisation established last year to help disadvantaged and vulnerable children. Life PNG Care national director Collin Pake said their mission was to help bring quality of life to children and better life choices. “Children are disadvantaged and vulnerable. Some are separated from their biological parents through many social factors like violence, poverty, family breakdown, sickness and death. We are trying to give these children the opportunity through our family home care, providing all the love and care that a child needs from parents,” he said. Last year, the NGO cared for 17 disadvantaged children. This year, the number has increased to 40. Pake said out of the 40, 20 would live with him, wife Freda and their two children Ruben, 3, and Josiah, 1. The other 20 will live with their relatives but will be paid regular visits and their education paid for. “We give these children all the care that we can so that they don’t feel abandoned or orphaned. That’s very important because these children need to know parental value as they will be mums and dads one day.”

Constructing a New Narrative on Infrastructure Development in PNG .

PNG Blogs 26 Jan.   An Essay by Gabriel Ramoi

Is Prime Minister ONeil, Treasurer Pruaitch & Minister Micah as leaders of the three biggest coalition partners in Government today capable of utilising the wealth generated from our extractive industries to provide cheap power, water & durable shelter for all our people? …Will this Government be able to harness the Power of the Purari or the Sepik River in a way that is environmentally sound and at the same time contribute in a positive way towards lifting our people out of poverty?

Some sobering Statistics on PNG and the MDG.

It is now official , 40% of our Population live on less then $1.25 a day ranking us 147 out of 189 of the worlds poorest nations and it is now confirmed that by all accounts PNG will failed to meet the world target in reducing poverty as definite in the Millennium Development Goal by end of September 2015 when the MDG ends. While the United Nations 2014 report on Human Development on the state of poverty in PNG has played down the issue of poverty in PNG, the CIA 2014 Fact Book on PNG on the other hand has been brutal in its country risk assessment on PNG describing our law and order situation as ‘ chronic’ with the potential of pushing the country off the edge and that the worsening law and order situation in the country is directly linked to poverty.

There is an urgent need for us in PNG to look seriously again at policy failures over the last 15year and to audit our policies in poverty alleviation particularly in our PIP infrastructure funding initiatives over that period and to not only investigate and bring to justice those that have misappropriated funds under these various failed PIP programs but to develop a new narrative on how to address poverty through the narrative of providing durable shelter, clean running water and electricity for all our people both urban and rural. Many PIP infrastructure projects appear in the development budget books but are never implemented. One PIP infrastructure project that stands out is the building of key arterial routes termed the missing link in our national road programs by the PNGDF with allocations of over 40million over a four year cycle with no roads to show for. Recently more funds have been given to the Army. It is now time for the PNGDF to account for these funds and to ensure that these roads are built and that the army is further mobilised into building micro power projects,water supply projects and help construct durable shelter for our village communities throughout PNG with new strategic partners to assist support the Army and to further harness the power of our youths and women organisations to reach this objective.

Let us not hold out to the belief that because of our geography we are destined to remain poor , we can harness nature to give us the best outcome and it requires political will to carry out this programs.

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