Social Concerns Notes – August 2015

Effect of El Niño (as of 24 August)

National PNG. National Weather Service says drought could last to March, April, or May 2016. National Disaster Centre says has no funds for frost or drought, but K5m will be released to provinces.

National Capital District. Residents told to conserve water, Sirinumu Dam water levels expected to drop (hydro, water source). Chimbu residents in Port Moresby form funds appeal committee.

Gulf Province. Purari River level really low near Baimuru. Bushfires and drought-affected gardens reported mountain areas in north.

Western Province. Middle Fly District, Balimo, Aramia – “Lagoons surrounding Balimo all have gone dry. Land surfacing where once was full of water. All inhabitants are struggling with water.

Kiunga – Fly River levels dropping, water and food shortage; Fuel going low; cars queuing to refill, fuel rationing starts already limiting bus runs on highway.

Tabubil. Most of OTML workforce “repatriated”, business houses told to lay off staff and close up many operations to reduce pressure on fuel and food stocks; town largely evacuated late Aug.

West Sepik and East Sepik Telefomin, Eliptaman dry. Tifalmin – Bush fires: “And now all valley around Tifalmin areas are covered with white smoke Frieda River almost dry, river bed visible, canoe travel difficult. Heat and dry spell killing taro, people living off cassava while it lasts.

Sepik River– water level dropping.  Ambunti wharf at the moment shows 2-3 meter drop.

Southern Highlands and Hela Provinces SH Province declared state of emergency late Aug; severe frosts; many people moving to kin at lower altitudes. Mendi, Komo-Magarima, Ialibu all experience serious frost damage; schools closed.

Enga Province Severe frosts in Enga, even in lower areas that were previously not affected by frosts.

Kandep, upper lagaip, sirunki. Heavy frost and prolonged drought.

Classes jeopardized for 100,000 high school/secondary students due to water and food shortages. …

Kandep – seriously hit by frosts; bushfires destroyed several homes in district. Kandep District

Western Highlands Waghi River level dropping, people can walk across

Tambul – MORE than 50,000 people in three local level governments of Tambul district are affected by drought and frost. People are starting to move out from the affected areas.

Jiwaka dry.

Simbu Province Water shortage Dry season for 4 months. “Everything turning brown”.

Eastern Highlands Goroka – “water shortages, people living in villages & the outskirts of town get water from streams & they are drying up! Food gardens drying up. “Market is becoming expensive.”

Morobe Province Yonki Dam- water levels dropping at dam. Bulolo, government workers working half a day. Wau, Residents feeding off ground water in water holes running out of water. Dysentery near Gulf/Morobe boundary attributed to eating rotten tubers from affected gardens.

Central Province Kosipe – People in Kosipe in Goilala district are leaving their villages, in search of food and help in Sopu, Chirime, Tanipai and Woitape, after all their food crops and gardens were destroyed by severe drought and frost. The situation is quite different from the 2007

Oro Province Tufi, Orobay, Ijivitari water shortage.  Tufi fresh water systems really low.

Milne Bay Province “…starting to experience dry spell, not too bad yet.”

Manus Lorengau – “the dust is killing us.”

Madang Province All Madang districts affected, but main problems concern Manam Islanders.

East New Britain Rabaul-Kokopo – surrounding villages affected, short of drinking water – fear people may be using contaminated sources in Warongoi River. Dry spell in fourth month.Pomio has rain!

West New Britain Kimbe – Very dry periods for 3 months, shortage of fresh water, river levels dropping, very dry strong winds and fires affecting oil palm areas, very cold nights experienced here too.

New Ireland Namatanai, Barok dry winds. Lihir – water tanks low

Bougainville Buka – water shortage. Dry season

Bougainville island – strong dry winds, illness

Solomon Islands Officials in Solomon Islands are calling for water rationing as drought conditions prevail there, especially in the northern provinces. The premier of Western Province, George Solingi Lilo, said if the conditions continue for more than a month, “all services in Gizo will have to come to a halt.”

AP tracks slave boats to Papua New Guinea

Jul. 27, 2015.

Trawlers fled a slave island in Indonesia with captives of a brutal Southeast Asian trafficking ring whose catch reaches the United States. Hundreds of men were freed after they were discovered there earlier this year, but 34 boats loaded with workers left for new fishing grounds before help arrived — they remain missing.

As the appetite for cheap fish worldwide grows, so does the demand for men who are paid little or nothing to catch it. Thailand’s $7 billion annual seafood export industry is built on the backs of poor people from its own country and migrants from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos who are sold, kidnapped and tricked onto trawlers.

[For full article see the url above]

Human Trafficking, A Major Problem

Post Courier, 30th July, 2015

Papua New Guinea is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour, according to a US Government Report. Foreign and local women and children are subjected to sex trafficking, domestic servitude, forced begging, and street vending, and foreign and local men are subjected to forced labour in logging and mining camps. An estimated 19 per cent of the country’s labour market is comprised of child workers—some of whom are subjected to forced labour or child prostitution, according to a Trafficking in Persons report released by the US Government. The report further says, non-government organisation (NGO) sources indicate children in prostitution increased by 30 per cent in 2013. Although PNG does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, it is making significant efforts to do so. The report stated that PNG Government has made efforts to combat trafficking when it announced the criminal code amendment of 2013, which contains anti-trafficking provisions; it established a new anti-trafficking training program for front-line officers and judiciaries; it created an anti-trafficking committee and drafted a national action plan to combat trafficking.

PNG Behind In Meeting MDGs

Post–Courier, 28th July, 2015

Mothers, newborn babies and children below the age of five are considered to be the high risk population and are likely to die from preventable diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia and diarrhoea if not immunised. This lack of immunisation means that Papua New Guinea lags far behind in improving its millennium development goals at improving infant and maternal mortality rates. Deputy Health Secretary Dr Paison Dakulala said children’s health and immunisation were still very big worries in the country and was not helping to achieve the MDG goals. “Goals four and five of the MDG which aims to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health for mothers are far from target. “The health indicators for child and maternal mortality are far below average,” he said, adding that if a baby and mother miss out on immunisation injections, they are vulnerable to preventable diseases. A nursing officer at a city clinic said that according to the Health Department, only about 60 per cent of the country is covered by immunisation programs.

Health workers shortage still a problem

Post Courier, July 28, 2015

THE shortage of health workers in the country will remain a problem for a long time, says a senior officer from the Health Department Dr Goa Tau.

Wewak Hospital board chairman Allan Bird raised serious concerns about the critical shortage of manpower facing his hospital, saying he hopes no outbreak hits Wewak as the hospital does not have the manpower to respond to big numbers of patients.

He said a nasty vehicle accident in Wewak last year had left many people dead, but those that survived and required care resulted in the hospital staff doing double shifts because there was not enough staff.

Mr Bird stated that hospitals were not just about buildings but whether they have the health workers to attend to patients. In answering his question, Dr Goa Tau had said the Government had increased the salaries of doctors in PNG through implementing of their awards which has resulted in the reduction of doctors going overseas. Later on, when the Post-Courier asked him whether the Health Department could consider the proposal on the Cuban doctors as one way to address the critical shortage of health workers, he said: “This is a political issue’’, and it was a question that should be put before the Minister for Health Michael Malabag.

Four saved from being burnt alive

Post Courier, July 28, 2015

FOUR people, including two pregnant women, were saved from being burnt to death after being accused of practising sorcery on Lihir Island in New Ireland Province. The four were tortured last Wednesday and almost burnt alive after being accused of practising sorcery in a settlement on the outskirts of the mining township. Fortunately, they were saved by a police rapid response team. The victims were taken to the hospital for treatment and moved to the police cells for their safety while police continued investigations.

Reports from Lihir are sketchy but, according to one eyewitness, the victims are receiving counselling.

“The police rapid response saved them from being burnt,” an eyewitness, who did not want to be named, said.


540 leprosy cases registered

The National, Wednesday July 29th, 2015

THE National Department of Health has confirmed 540 leprosy cases registered by clinics and health centres around the country in 2015.  Despite leprosy no longer a priority public health problem, it still exists in many communities. Miriam Pahun, a technical adviser in the leprosy programme, said that there was a misconception that leprosy had been eradicated.

“Eradication simply means in medical terms that there are no more reported cases of infection reaching the health authorities,” she said. “Unfortunately, it is not quite true in PNG. Leprosy has only being reduced and from our recent statistics many people are affected by this silent disease,” Pahun said. Unlike other diseases, the leprosy germ takes weeks to multiply and usually affects people with a very low immune system, she said. “It will take usually 14 days for the leprosy germ to multiply and three to five years for small circular white patches to appear on the skin. “The patches will look like white spots and is an indication that the leprosy germs are slowly affecting the nerve system, resulting in loss of sensation that lead to disability and clawed hands,” Pahun said.

Sir Paul slams SI Cabinet

The Cabinet has been accused of acting illegally when it decided to channel disaster relief funds through members of parliament instead of channeling them through the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO). Former MP and Speaker of parliament Sir Paul Tovua was critical against government action in disbursing disaster relief funds to members of parliament. He pointed out that NDMO is the legitimate body established by an Act of Parliament to manage and administer disaster relief funds, not MPs. He was referring to the payment of $3.3 million made to 33 MPs whose constituencies suffered the brunt of Cyclone Raquel last month. Each of the 33 members was paid $100,000 to discharge to those affected his/her constituency.

Sir Paul said sarcastically speaking our current members of parliament are more like ATMs machines since they handle large amount of public funds. “The problem with this is, it creates a dependency mindset amongst our people. When they need money, they run straight to the MP. In essence people become dependent on the MP for almost everything” he said. Sir Paul said the saddest aspect of the situation is these constituency funds only goes to supporters or voters of the MPs. He said voters who supported a different candidate who lost in the elections would certainly expect nothing from the MP.

He said often these large number of voters who voted differently are left high and dry for the next four years.

Four million ha of forest remaining

Post Courier, July 29,2015, 06:00 pm

Papua New Guinea rainforest is depleting very fast, according to Forest Minister Douglas Tomuriesa.

He said PNG has the third largest rainforest in the world with an estimated 15 million hectares of forest but the saddest thing is that there is only 4 million hectares remaining. Minister Tomuriesa while debating on the climate change (Management) Bill passed by Parliament yesterday said that PNG has 15 million hectares of rainforest for logging. However about 11 million hectares of the forest has being logged and only four million hectares are remaining and needs to be managed.

“Therefore we must save our forest for the future generation and preserve them to help address issues of green houses and also prepare to mitigate issues of climate change in the world.

Violence against women, a global pandemic’

Solomon Star 29th July

No country in the world has got it right when it comes to gender equality or completely erasing violence against women says Australia Chancellor Roclle White. Speaking yesterday as a key note speaker during the launching of the new toolkit on how to design projects to end violence against women and girls, she said, violence against women and girls is a global pandemic. “Prevalence surveys in the Pacific have shown that the incidence of violence against women is among the worst in the world,” she said. She said, as many as two in three women have experienced physical and or sexual violence by their intimate partner or a family member. She said, even Australia have terrible statistics when it comes to violence against women where she revealed that a third of Australian women over the age of 15 have experienced some form of physical assault where one in five Australian women has experienced sexual assault.

Thanks that change is occurring, including here in the Solomon Islands where she said, governments are advancing legislation, policies and national action plans to end violence against women.

While this is seen as a progress, she stressed out that Pacific Island governments and civil society organizations still find it difficult to access enough funding and resources and need more support and capacity to design and implement projects end violence against women.

More than AUD$7M has been channelled to the fund by Australia to provide grants and capacity-building support programs to end violence against women and girls in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, Nauru and Kiribati.


O’Neill eyes law on total gun ban

The National, Monday August 3rd, 2015

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill wants a total ban of guns in the country. He is talking to Police Commissioner Gari Baki and relevant authorities about tabling a proposed legislation in Parliament on the ban. “We’ve talked with the Police Commissioner and his management team that we should now get all the firearms back into the armoury,” he said. “My thinking is that we should ban firearms completely in the country. We don’t need to carry firearms anywhere for that matter.”

O’Neill said a good example was portrayed during the Pacific Games when no firearms were carried around by security officers. “We must learn from the experience of the Pacific Games. There were close to almost a thousand men and women there. “We made a decision that they will not possess firearms.”

St John to close facility

The National, Monday August 3rd, 2015

The St John Council of PNG has decided to close its Blind Service facility in Port Moresby because of lack of funding from the Government. Director Blind Service Ruth Sangkol said any grant from the Government was meant for health-related work, including administration. “This is effectively implying that blindness is not a health problem and therefore should go,” she said. “This is absurd. How is blindness not a health problem? “We are a recognised inclusive special education centre providing services to the people who are blind or with visual impairment. “Our key services include rehabilitation, education and primary eye and ear care.” It is understood that the council plans to turn the place into a TB and dental clinic as well as  install a dialysis machine for kidney patients.

Drop in baby vaccines

Post Courier, August 04, 2015

IMMUNISATION of children less than one year of age in Papua New Guinea has drastically dropped since 2009 to 42 per cent, way below world standards recommended by the World Health Organisation. The figures were released by Health Secretary Pascoe Kase through a circular dated May 1, 2015, to all provinces and health managers at national level to help arrest the falling figures and announce the introduction of two new vaccines to the country. The two new vaccines are Measles-Rubella and Inactivated Polio. But the worrying figure is PNG‘s immunisation of children under one. The world standards recommended by WHO is at 80 per cent and above, and in 2009, PNG only immunised 55 per cent of its children under one. And five years after that, the figure plummeted with PNG only immunising 42 per cent of its children, 38 per cent worse off from the world standards.

The figures are not getting any better despite the National Department of Health (NDoH) developing a special expanded program on immunisation (EPI) in the National Health Plan 2011-2020, and WHO and the NDoH are trying their very best to elevate the plummeting figures.

The frightening statistics in Lae’s urban health centres of one nurse to 200, 000 patients is a contributing factor of health workers unable to go out on immunisation patrols and delivering quality health care. Poor logistical and financial support from the national, provincial and district headquarters were also blamed for poor immunisation results.

Manam islanders need assistance

Post Courier, August 04, 2015

THE Manam volcano in Madang remains on Stage-two alert following last week’s eruption.

“Things have quietened a bit but there is still some ash emission,” he said.

In stating this he had advised that some awareness should be done by the provincial disaster officials on the ground in Madang to prepare the people on the island, should the situation worsen. Meanwhile, provincial authorities had confirmed that food and water are issues needing urgent attention from the Government. Madang Provincial Disaster and Emergency director Rudolf Mongalee said funding continued to be an issue for the office, adding that he was looking for funds to purchase rations, water containers and tarpaulins to deliver to more than 4000 islanders who are back on the island.

PM O’Neill says enough of Aid industry

Post Courier, August 03, 2015

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill has called for a rethink in the way development support is delivered in the Asia-Pacific. PM O’Neill said there has to be a better deal for the taxpayers of contributing countries like Australia, while recipient countries want to ensure support develops real capacity and skills, and is only ever seen as temporary. The Prime Minister said one of the biggest obstacles to effective development support were middlemen who take commissions on aid expenditure. “Development assistance has become a billion dollar ‘industry’ where so much of the goodwill ends up in the pockets of middlemen and expensive consultants,” Peter O’Neill said. “As a developing country we don’t want handouts, we don’t want Australian taxpayer money wasted and we don’t want boomerang aid. “There is a better way to work with our partners and we will develop better arrangements. “Papua New Guinea is changing, we are growing and as a nation of 8 million people we want to move beyond hand-outs and work with our partners to strengthen capacity.” The Prime Minster said in Papua New Guinea there will be a review support arrangements that will save money for contributing countries and deliver capacity and skills in recipient countries. “In 2016 Papua New Guinea will move to a model where our partners will be welcome to fund positions within our Government. “These staff can then work and report through the Papua New Guinea Government system and we will deliver their salaries through arrangements with the donor countries.

Why the short bus routes in Honiara

04 August 2015

THE short bus route in Honiara was triggered by daily targets imposed by Asian bus owners on their drivers and conductors. That was according to a bus driver Timothy Aloga. He disclosed this to the Solomon Star during Monday’s five hour protest by bus drivers and conductors in Honiara against the increasing entry of Asians into the local bus industry. “When you work for a Chinese bus owner; you have no option but to come up with techniques to counter the pressure of hitting daily targets,” Mr Aloga said. “As a result bus drivers turn to operate along short routes to hit their daily targets knowing that if they don’t hit their daily targets, they will be either verbally abused or sacked as the result,” he added. According to the bus drivers who staged the protest, there were about five Chinese bus owners currently running buses in Honiara and they owned more than 100 buses.

Illegal miners invade Porgera

The National, Wednesday August 5th, 2015

MORE than 1000 illegal miners are invading the Porgera gold mine in Enga every day for gold, police say. Highlands division police commander Teddy Tei told The National yesterday that security officers, including police and soldiers were outnumbered by the illegal miners every day and could not control them. He said the illegal miners went directly to the mine pit to look for gold. “The illegal miners wait near the mine and when they hear the blast, they all run like hell in there and get whatever gold they can find,” he said. He said from the report he received recently, one man earned K270,000 from the gold he found at the mine site. “The illegal miners know that the police and soldiers will not shoot to kill them and they have no fear in them,” he said.

Collecting bottles to make ends meet

Post Courier, August 04,2015, 02:00 pm

Collecting empty cans, bottles and plastic bottles to re-sell is increasingly becoming a small revenue maker for ordinary Papua New Guineans. In Mt Hagen, Western Highlands Province, the third city in PNG ‘bottle collecting’ is a rife little business for the grassroots. People of all ages from school aged children to old people collect empty cans and bottles to gain the extra kina for their daily surivival.

Most collect to re-sell while some collect to 500ml bottles to re-fill with water and re-sell after cleaning the bottles. This re-filled water bottles are sold for 50t. It raises fears of health concerns due to fact that many bottles are not cleaned properly. Bottle collecting happens everywhere in the country and Mt Hagen is just one of those provinces.

Phone texting affects spelling

Post Courier, August 10,2015, 01:42 am

CHILDREN were told to read more and spend less time on mobile phones because texting is affecting comprehension and spelling in English for many of them. The message was given at the closing of the 2015 National Book Week in Port Moresby on Friday, hosted by Hagara Primary School.

School board treasurer Mr A Jaima said a lot of people who went to school in the 1960s and 70s went onto become leaders in the country because of the type of education they had. He said it was not the same today and urged the students to read more in order to become successful in future.

“It saddens me to see that many children today do not read books. They carry around mobile phones. As a result, in future they will not know English. How do you expect our country to be prosperous in the future?’’ Mr Jaima said.

He said these days when most children go home, they do not carry books or sit down to read or do their homework, but they are seen playing with phones and talking about other things rather than about school.

“I hear kids speaking a lot in Pidgin but not in English.’’

He said mobile phones should be used by children for only communication purposes so that they have time for reading and other things that will enable them to do well in future.

“If you spend so much time on books, you will become powerful. If you spend less time, you will be powerless,’’ he said.

Govt and church relations important

Post Courier, August 12,2015, 01:09 am

EFFECTIVE partnership between churches and the Government is important to effectively address the increased law and order problems affecting young people in recent times. Concerned leaders of the PNG Church Partnership Program Church Leaders Council stressed this during its first meeting for the financial year 14 to 15 recently in Port Moresby. The leaders called on the Government to partner with the churches to address social problems which, they claimed, were escalating at a very fast rate.

“We have noted that there is an increased in law and order problems related to sorcery killings, drug and alcohol, cult practices in schools and school violence in tertiary, secondary and primary institutions. “We acknowledge that many of those involved in these issues are members of our congregations,” they said in a statement. With the vision to enhance the capacity of the PNG Churches to contribute to PNG development and social stability, they said they are in a good place to be part of the solution to the issues. According to the leaders, a number of factors contributing to these social concerns extending to poverty, lack of employment opportunities, increased urban migration have been recognised.

Women’s group to clean airport

The National, Wednesday August 12th, 2015

A GROUP of women in Western Highlands will clean and maintain the Kagamuga airport as part of a three-year plan to help themselves. They formed the Kagamuga Inter-Denomination Mothers Association Incorporated to help in their development. The three-year plan includes increasing its membership, promote God’s Word in the communities, organise church activities, promote working and farming attitude. They plan to invite non-government organisations and donor agencies to educate mothers in sewing, cooking, running businesses and family planning because most of them were unskilled and illiterate. Hagen rural local level government councillor Luke Mathew gave K1000 for them to open a bank account. “I believe what you are doing will bring changes to the people of Yamka-Pepka tribe and help maintain the standard of the Kagamuga airport,” he said.

Huge cutbacks threaten to decimate PNG’s universities

16 August 2015

THE vice-chancellor of the PNG University of Technology, Prof Albert Schram, has told Radio New Zealand International that the PNG Treasury has announced that all universities will have their funds cut by 40% for the rest of 2015. The disclosure follows recent independent analysis of the nation’s budget which, despite denials from prime minister Peter O’Neill, shows significant revenue problems. Paradoxically, Mr O’Neill indicated last week that a slump in the economy would somehow be good for PNG. He agreed with ANZ Bank chief Mike Smith that the resources boom allowed PNG to paper over weaknesses in the system and so the downturn now is “not such a bad thing.”

Too many people had become complacent about forecasts that the country would grow by up to 20% this year, Mr O’Neill said. But he also gave assurances that the government “won’t be resorting to indiscriminate budget cutting” which followed an earlier government commitment that educational institutions would not be impacted by budget cuts. But it seems these assurances were paper thin, and that money is rapidly running out for the delivery of government services across the board.

Prof Schram warned that courses or teachers at Unitech might need to be cut if the funding cutbacks are not reversed. “All the university bursars this year were called to Treasury on 10 June and cuts of 40% for the rest of the year were announced,” Prof Schram told Don Wiseman of RNZI.

PNG Treasury had also applied monthly transfers of funds rather than providing them for a longer period which made it “very difficult to run the university.”

Most people live in settlements

The National, Monday August 17th, 2015

ABOUT 60 per cent of residents in Port Moresby and 50 per cent in Lae live in squatter settlements, an official says. Office of Urbanisation director Max Kep said the lack of decent and proper housing for people in towns and cities was a major problem. He said the 60 per cent of residents in Port Moresby and 50 per cent of those in Lae in squatter settlements deserved decent homes.

“These percentages could increase if the Government does not intervene (now),” Kep said.

“We need to stop and review how things are going at this point.”

300,000 lives at stake

The National, Monday August 17th, 2015

Chief Secretary Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc says up to 300,000 people in the Highlands will be affected by the prolonged drought. He said that when confirming that Kandep, in Enga, had been hard hit by frost last week, adding that six of the seven Highlands provinces had been hit hard by the drought.

Eastern Highlands has not been affected. An emergency meeting will be held today to discuss ways of dealing with this crisis. He said reports had only come in about Mt Wilhem in Chimbu, being hard hit by drought while other provinces were yet to give in their reports. “Up to 300,000 people (in the Highlands) may be affected and we will confirm this as the figures start coming in,” Sir Manasupe said.

Drug abuse a major problem in PNG

The National, Monday August 17th, 2015

DRUG abuse is a major problem among youths in the country, according to the narcotics bureau acting coordinator Lawrence Tau. “Drugs, especially marijuana and hombrew, have destroyed our youths,” Tau said. “Youths are throwing their lives to drugs and are doing a lot of things that are uncalled for in their communities. “Drug-related crimes are on the rise and need Government attention and rapid intervention.” He said the Government had tried to curb the problem but it still continued.

“If we fail to address the problem now then, we are facing a bigger problem in future,” Tau said.

“We cannot have a population where all young people are taking home-brew and marijuana. We want quality future leaders with sound minds.” He said education and special skills training for unemployed youths was a good option.

Frost disaster

Post Courier, August 18, 2015

MORE than 300,000 people in Enga have been hit by what is described as “the worst frost disaster” in the province in more than 40 years. Enga Administrator Samson Amean who called an emergency meeting yesterday with the provincial disaster and emergency committee said entire food gardens have been destroyed, especially in Kandep district.

“The entire Kandep district is flattened. This is a worst ever frost disaster that Enga has faced in recent years. Surely, it is worse than the 1972 disaster,” he said. Mr Amean said the province was also feeling the effects of the prolonged drought and the frost simultaneously. “We will face the worst of the worst in terms of shortage of water and garden food if the current drought and the frost continue for the next two weeks,” he said.

Governor admits no funds for Manam relief

Post Courier, August 19, 2015

GOVERNOR Jim Kas has admitted the Madang provincial government does not have money to buy relief supplies for the people of Manam. The second batch of supplies are due to be delivered this week however, concerns had been raised by the islanders that the supply would only last a few meals.

For the people on this disaster stricken area this does not spell good news especially with all their water sources either contaminated or dried up and their food gardens now destroyed and families without any means of an income to buy from markets let alone shops. The question that is now hanging is if the second batch is the last? And what will become of them especially the young children whose meal and water intake have been drastically reduced to just one per day.

“Is this (relief supply) just a one off thing or will there be more especially now that our food gardens and water sources are destroyed by the effects of both the El Nino and eruption,” was the common statement echoed by those interviewed.

Women tortured for alleged witchcraft

The National, Thursday August 20th, 2015

TWO women were tortured with hot iron bars after being accused of practising witchcraft, which allegedly led to a man’s death. Acting provincial police commander Senior Inspector Mas Tuman said the incident happened last Monday at Kawe village in the Imbonggu district of Southern Highlands.

Tuman said five women and a man were accused of practising witchcraft, which led to the death of Jack Wambia, a community health worker in the village. He said the villagers after conducting their own investigation blamed the death on the two women. They set them alight and tortured them with hot iron bars. He said the two women were later taken to the Mendi General Hospital. He said one was discharged later while the other was admitted. Tuman said last Monday, the man died after his pig attacked him. Tuman said the whole community was involved and it was hard to identify the suspects.

He urged the people to respect others living in their community and not to attack them for no good reason. He said sorcery-related incidents must be stopped and people should not take the law into their own hands. He said they would ensure that all those who broke the law were hauled before the court.

US Government condemns public sorcery ‘trial’‘trial’-shp

The United States Government has spoken out in protest at an alleged sorcery torture public show in the Southern Highlands in the past week. Four people were put through a public session of beatings and torture as they were alleged to have caused the deaths of other people through sorcery.

The US Embassy in Port Moresby last night issued a denunciation of the event. The statement “deplores the brutal violence inflicted on three women and one man over the last week in Mendi. The public humiliation, beating, and burning of these individuals with hot rods following accusations of sorcery in the villages of Kave and Kumin in the Southern Highlands Province is reprehensible’’.

The statement issued by the embassy said: “We call on the provincial police authorities to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these senseless acts and for the 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. Adequate and timely response by the police and judicial system is needed to deter future crimes and hold perpetrators responsible for their actions.

“The United States calls for the strengthening of Papua New Guinea’s criminal justice system to allow for enhanced prevention and response efforts and proper enforcement of existing criminal laws. Furthermore, we ask the Papua New Guinean government, public, and civil society to say no to violence in their communities and put an end to the stigmas that lead to it. “Our thoughts are with the victims’ families and children during this difficult time.’’

One of the World’s Worst Places for Women Gets Its First Domestic Abuse Hotline

Counselors in Papua New Guinea will be available for 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

Until just two years ago, domestic violence wasn’t even considered a criminal offense in the island nation. Although physical mistreatment abuse is punishable by fines and jail time, a slow shift in societal norms has left women and children vulnerable. Hoping to offer support and options to families in danger, a free domestic violence hotline launched on Wednesday. The toll-free line offers trauma counseling along with referrals for local support, including safe houses, law enforcement, and legal assistance.

Along with supporting the victims, Papua New Guinean counselors will also offer their services to those perpetrating the abuse in order to address the root cause of the country’s culture of violence.

“There are many good people who, for whatever reason, commit bad acts,” said Aydelfe Salvadora, the program’s manager. “We understand that speaking to someone on either side of the issue may help improve the situation.”

No to death penalty

Post Courier August 24, 2015

THE Catholic Archdiocese of Port Moresby has intensified lobby among its followers for a petition opposing the death penalty. It plans to hand the petition to Parliament when it sits in October.

The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty which is in review by the Government following international condemnation of Indonesia’s execution of the two ring leaders of the Bali Nine drug syndicate early this year. Twelve people are on death row in Papua New Guinea, although the instruments for the executions have not been signed. Port Moresby Archbishop John Ribat said that the Catholic Church would continue to voice concern and opposition to death penalty in PNG. He said the law on death penalty was against the sanctity of life and PNG being pre-dominantly a Christian nation could not have laws that did not respect human life.

“The Government has no right to take away life. Only God gives life and can take life,’’ he said.

The St Joseph Parish at Boroko organised a seminar last Saturday to garner support against the death penalty. It was attended by academics, lawyers, members of the clergy and university students, among others.

They said that no one had the right to take someone else’s life, especially the Government which was considering it in light of increase in serious crime. They said that life sentence was sufficient for serious crimes. Catholic Professionals Society president Paul Harricknen said in his presentation that the church recognised the right of the State to legislate and make laws under the Constitution it would be difficult for the State to justify that death penalty is the only alternative or the last resort to deter crime. “The church teaching does not advocate death penalty,’’ he said. “Death penalty is not new to PNG. There are already many extra-judicial killings by State’s law enforcement personnel and unlawful killings by people, including sorcery-related killings. Death penalty and the execution of death sentences will not make much difference,’’ he said.

Mr Harricknen said under the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act 2013 there were four ways of executing death penalty – hanging by the neck, electrocution, lethal injection, and deprivation of oxygen. “All of these methods were potentially cruel, inhumane and inconsistent with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person under section 36 of the Constitution,’’ he said.

Govt urged to defer 40th celebrations

Post Courier, August 21, 2015

THE K25 million allocated for the Independence Day celebrations should be used to assist people affected by frost which has been triggered by the El Nino, says Opposition Leader Don Polye.

He is concerned that people are starving due to food shortage. “The Government should delay the 40th Independence Day celebrations to a later date,” he said in a statement. Mr Polye took the Government to task for being insensitive to the needs of the victims affected by disaster on hand, triggered by the El Nino conditions. He questioned why K25 million was allocated for the anniversary celebrations while frost-affected victims will have nothing to celebrate.

SOE declared. Severe drought and frost affects SHP

Post Courier, August 19, 2015

GOVERNOR William Powi has declared a state of emergency in Southern Highlands Province as severe frost and drought destroyed food gardens and water sources. Mr Powi and his provincial executive council have met in Mendi this week and assessed the situation as “very critical” – one which needs urgent National Government attention. This Highlands Province is in urgent need of food supplies, water, clean toilets and basic health services since it was hit by frost and drought four weeks ago. More than 500,000 people are affected, including school-aged children. Hospitals, homes, families and businesses have little or no water for drinking, cooking, toilets, showers and washing.

Letter from Catholic Bishops on Drought and Frost


We Are Resourceful People

Much of Papua New Guinea and parts of Solomon Islands are experiencing a time of drought and in some places frost. Water is short and for many people food sources are becoming depleted. This is a time to draw upon our traditional Melanesian values of sharing and hospitality, and particularly on the Christian virtues of charity, honesty and justice. This is not a time for some to benefit from other’s misfortune, but rather an opportunity to demonstrate our resourcefulness and concern for one another.

Water flowing in rivers has it’s source in rain coming from the heavens. It does not belong to anyone. So it is wrong if some people with access to rivers charge money for those people without river access to get water. River water is for the common good.

Likewise, now is not a time for some who are relatively unaffected by drought and frost to inflate prices for garden food or seedlings and to make a large profit from those who are less fortunate. Nor is it right to take advantage of people who have to leave their homes to take refuge elsewhere. Any form of profiteering from this tragedy is unjust and unacceptable.

Now as we begin celebrations for PNG’s forty years of Independence, this is surely a time to show our resourcefulness and concern for one another. Like the people of Israel wandering 40 years in the desert, we place our trust in God who will always care for his people, and in Jesus who showed us that he can transform what little we have into great abundance as long as we are willing to share. We do not have to be beggars. There is enough in this great land for all to share. Before thinking about storegoods from overseas, we should think of our own reserves and first see how much unaffected areas can help with garden produce. We can use disaster funds to first purchase kaukau and greens etc. from our neighbours and transport them to the affected areas, rather than waiting for rice and noodles.

We also need to warn people of the danger of fire, not to light fires unnecessarily, and to be particularly careful that fires do not get out of hand and threaten people or their homes, and also the forests. Forest creatures and the forests themselves are also suffering at this time.

Let us pray to God the Lord of all creation that this time of frost and drought will end soon and that with God’s help we will emerge from this trial stronger and more resourceful people, proving once again our great capacity to share with those less fortunate than ourselves.

Bishop Arnold Orowae,

President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference PNG/SI

19 August 2015

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