Social Concerns Notes – March 2018

Death Toll Rises

Post Courier March 6, 2018

People of Hela have been living in fear since the magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck on February 26 followed by more than 50 aftershocks, Tari-Pori MP James Marape said yesterday. “People in the electorate and other affected areas are not sleeping in their houses but spending nights in open fields in fear of tremors that might cause their shelters to collapse on them,” Mr Marape, who is Finance Minister, said. “Last two nights I witnessed people out in cold and rain fearing to go into their houses in case earthquake strikes again. I call on responsible agencies of state to establish the cause of this continues earthquakes and inform our people as to the possibility of future occurrence.

“There also a lot of speculation on the cause of it hence the need for appropriate government authority to ascertain the cause, present in ordinary languages to our people to recover from the trauma associate the shake,” Mr Marape said from Tari. While acknowledging National Government and partners like ExxonMobil and Oil Search for their commitment for big help to the affected areas, due to various assumptions that the continuous quakes might have links to the LNG project operations, Mr Marape asked for answers in relation to these questions by people.


Youths Caught in Act of Cult Initiation

Post Courier, February 26, 2018

A cult initiation was busted by police and the University of PNG security last Saturday resulting in the arrest of 39 boys. The boys, aged between 14 and 18, were caught drinking hombrew and were in the middle of an initiation ceremony near the back road at Eight-Mile, behind the university Waigani campus in Moresby’s North West. The boys are from the same school and were in the process of producing and consuming homebrew when Waigani police and Uniforce arrested them. A green wheelie bin that was used to mix their homebrew was also confiscated in the raid. Police station commander Jerry Yawa said that the boys were in a big group but only 39 were caught. “The younger boys were scared with a lot saying that they were coerced by the older boys to join. “It was only because of intimidation that the younger boys joined the drinking session,” Mr Yawa said. The boys spent a night in the police lockup while police were questioning the group.

Mr Yawa said parents must know at all times that their children are safe in school and also the fact that discipline begins at home.


Stranded Students Hike Back to School

Post Courier March 5, 2018

Mendi School of Nursing that was damaged in last Monday’s earthquake has its final year students on nursing practical still out in remote parts of Southern Highlands and Hela awaiting evacuation back to the school. Some began to walk back to their damaged school because the school cannot reach them as no other help was on its way. For instance, three female students at Inu Health Centre in Kutubu could not get back to Mendi after roads and bridges linking to their school were damaged. Two of the students decided to walk for help while another sought assistance with Oil Search that flew her out of Moro to Port Moresby yesterday. One of the students who wanted to remain unnamed had her horrors to tell of the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that hit Southern Highland and Hela provinces last Monday morning. She said students on their eight-week long practical could not be rescued and many started walking back to Mendi in search for help. “We could not remain in the health facility and assist anyone because it was damaged. I was hungry for three days because we ran out of rations after we had a few biscuits from teachers at the nearby damaged Kutubu Secondary High School. “Our advice from the school was to wait. We could not wait. The house we were living in was damaged and water sources were also destroyed. The sewer was broken and sewerage spilled everywhere. We could not wait around in such area,” she said.

“Everyone was in fear and needed some sort of help,” she said. “We decided to find our own way out.


State to Pay K42,000 for Human Rights Breaches

Post Courier, March 6, 2018

The National Court has ordered the State to pay four individuals a total of K42,400.80 for breach of their human rights by police 10 years ago in Port Moresby. Justice David Cannnigs handed down the decision on the assessment of damages at the Waigani National Court in favour of Michael Wafi , Efete Max, Petrus Magabe, and Samuel Arawe following a successful trial that determined that the State as the employer of the police officers was liable for the breaches.The plaintiffs claimed damages for property losses, breach of human rights, personal injuries, and exemplary damages. “The claims were generally excessive due to the lack of corroboration. However, there was sufficient evidence to defeat the State’s proposition that nothing should be awarded, and the court proceeded to make an assessment in respect of each category of damages for each plaintiff,” Justice Cannings said while also ordering the State to the pay the plaintiffs’ cost of the proceedings. The four were among seven other traders who were subjected to physical assault by police and suffered the destruction and confiscation of their trading items including betelnuts, mustard, cash, cigarettes, playing cards, cigarette lighters, prepaid mobile phone cards, lollies, matches, and umbrellas at Gerehu market in Port Moresby Northwest in 2009. The members of police who were armed with firearms and bush knives raided the market looking for people who had earlier started a fight in the market, the court said.

In another decision Justice Cannings ordered the State to the pay one Charlie Kogora K32,814 inclusive of interest for breach of his human rights after he was remanded in custody for five days in an overcrowded, and unhygienic police lock-up in Buka, Bougainville, in 2011. The lock-up was an intimidating, inhospitable and threatening environment, that also had convicted prisoners and Mr Kogora was traumatised and genuinely feared for his physical and mental well-being and his life, the Judge said.


Station shuts as cell runs out of food

March 6, 2018, National

THE Popondetta police station in Northern was closed yesterday and officers will not respond to public complaints because there is no money to feed prisoners in the cell, provincial police commander Chief Inspector Lincoln Gerari says. Gerari told The National that the shortage of funding has been a problem since beginning of this year. “I made contact with police headquarters and I was informed that there were cash flow problems in the department,” he said. “We have closed the doors as of today (yesterday) because we are unable to feed the prisoners and we cannot get any more into the cell.” Gerari said more than 30 prisoners, some of whom were being held for very serious offenses including murder and rape, would not be released to the community for the safety of the public.
Gerari said detainees held for minor offences were released.
He said a court of law would decide their cases, however, police were in a desperate situation because the prisoners have not been fed.
“The prisoners were not fed the whole weekend.”
Gerari called on the Government to intervene because they could not keep the hungry prisoners in the cell for too long.


Delay Critical

Post Courier, March 7, 2018

A rescue helicopter pilot has painted a grim picture of delays in critical relief supplies to some of the areas worst affected in last Monday’s earthquake and continuing aftershocks.

Veteran Heli-Solutions pilot, Captain Eric Aliawi, said yesterday that many disaster-affected communities have not yet received any relief supplies, in the nine days since the earthquake. The Government is slowly pooling together relief efforts in the wake of the massive earthquake.

Having conducted more than 100 flights in and out of disaster-affected areas since last Monday, Captain Aliawi made specific mention of the communities in Homa and Pawa that had not received relief supplies despite being only about four minutes by air from Moro Airfield.

“What we have done so far is we have taken the crew from the disaster emergency people and the provincial government around to the affected areas. We’ve carried the administration and our political leaders around to these places to assess the extent of the damage. We have taken a few doctors, around to the disaster areas as well, basically to check and declare people clinically dead, but without any medication,” he said.

He said that the death toll had continued to climb during the past few days, with another nine people being reported dead in the Bosavi area on Monday.

“Amid threats of landslides and liquefaction in some areas, other factors such as the lack of portable drinking water, food and medical supplies continue to endanger lives in disaster areas. “Every night we are getting reports of people being killed. Yesterday, I believe about nine or 10 people were reported dead in the Bosavi area. “I flew the provincial heads or the political team across there.


War on Sale of Betelnut goes wrong for Police

Post Courier, March 8, 2018

A Port Moresby police operation against betelnut vendors yesterday went horribly wrong when a church-run school in Hohola became the target instead. National Capital District police have launched an investigation to determine how a gas canister aimed at the vendors caused four children to be sick at the nearby Sacred Heart Primary School. One child was reportedly still under observation at the Port Moresby General Hospital yesterday afternoon.

The police had opened and left the gas canister near a bakery store about noon for the wind to blow the gas towards the betelnut sellers at the Hohola Market to remove them.

The offending policeman was observed strolling on the road towards the market as the gas gathered momentum and moved in the opposite direction to the school yard. The gas affected four students, causing dizziness, shivering, watery eyes and difficulties in breathing. School headmaster Pokatou Litau said that a student from Grade Five ran to the administration building to warn of the smell.

“The school was warned over our PA system and students who were experiencing headaches and watery eyes were applied water to their eyes and moved to another part of the school where there was no smell of the gas. “A little boy was seriously affected by the smell and rushed to Saint Therese Clinic and on to Port Moresby General Hospital. “After we stabilised the students we called their parents, who rushed over and took their children home,” Mr Litau said. A parent who was made aware of the incident described the police officers involved as callous, unqualified and stupid.



Resource curse as ExxonMobil’s LNG project foments unrest

Post Courier 09, March 2018

You can read the complete article here

The Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas (LNG) project is the largest resource extraction project in the Asia-Pacific region. Constructed at a stated cost of US$19 billion, it’s operated by ExxonMobil in joint venture with Oil Search and four other partners…..

It claims the project could potentially improve the quality of life of locals by providing services and enhancing productivity. Workers and suppliers would reap rewards, as would landowners who would also benefit from social and economic infrastructure.

But six years on, none of this has come to pass. … Papua New Guinea now faces a situation where it’s compelled to send its army to an area where a major resource extraction project has failed to deliver on its promises to landowners. It may be time for all parties involved – both state and corporate – to consider development as a more effective path to peace.

(For the rest of this interesting article, see the url above).


Jiwaka’s young people top the list in shocking HIV figures

March 13, 2018The National

JIWAKA is the worst-hit Highlands province in HIV/AIDS infection among school-aged people, according to provincial HIV response coordinator Kuk Gola.
He said youths between the ages 13 and 25 were the most affected group in Jiwaka, which was the highest among the Highlands provinces although all the figures were not available.
“The province is only six years old but seeing the trend in which our young people are in danger of HIV is worrying,” Gola said. “The future of the province is at stake. We can no longer keep it confidential.”
The HIV programme in Jiwaka has received some funding support from Unicef, Baptist Union PNG, Family Health International 360 and the Jiwaka government over the last four years. Gola thanked them for the support which has enabled them to run some programmes.
He said the increase in the HIV prevalence rate among the young population was detected through pregnant girls and young people who went for treatment.


Severe Sea level Rising Expected

Post Courier, March 16, 2018

Papua New Guinea is among 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific that will experience a severe rise in sea levels during this century, according to World Bank studies.

The studies say the sea level is rising, and will continue beyond the year 2100, even if greenhouse gas emissions are stabilized today.

Sea levels are expected to rise by at least one meter during this century, according to the current scientific consensus. It is envisaged that sea levels may even rise by three meters by 2100, in light of the new evidence on ice-cliff instability of the Antarctic.

Dangers of sea-level rise include but are not limited to:

  • land loss from the permanent inundation of low-lying coastal areas;
  • intensification of inundation from cyclonic storm surges;
  • loss of critical coastal wetlands, for example mangroves; and
  • progressive salinisation of soil and water.

World Bank has warned that tens of millions of coastal inhabitants of East Asia and the Pacific must prepare for the rise in the sea-levels.

A World Bank study identified coastal areas with low elevation, and assessed the probable consequences of continued sea-level rise for 84 developing countries, using satellite maps of the world overlaid with data on population growth (assuming that the current locational distribution is unchanged). Including 12 countries – Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, D.P.R Korea, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam – the study’s findings indicate that the impact of sea-level rising will be particularly severe for this region. The other study projected that the loss of mangroves in China, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, Palau, Solomon Islands, and Fiji, heightens the countries’ vulnerability to cyclones – and catastrophic losses of lives, property, habitat, and infrastructure.


26 Care Centres in 5 Affected Provinces

Post Courier, March 16, 2018

THERE are 26 care centres in the five affected provinces identified by the United Nations as aid reaches remote communities cut-off by the 7.5-magnitude earthquake – Hela and Southern Highlands the worst hit. Emergency Controller Dr Bill Hamblin said yesterday that rescue workers are grappling with landslides, blocked roads and downed power and communications to reach isolated villages but all these being addressed amidst geographical and weather conditions. Dr Hamblin also said that Australia and New Zeeland’s air assets would cease operations mid next week which would cause logistics problems however, the Government would revert to Oil Search to provide air assets as well as a few commercials airlines. “There’s about 26 care centres that the UN has identified around the region where people have gathered and we trying to supply water and materials etc … and we make sure we got health people there in there,” Dr Hamblin said.

“What we are trying to do now is support those centres where the people are until such time as they feel they can go back because some of them are very, very reluctant to go back,” he said. “We are going to look at how we get the supplies to these areas longer term by roads, that creates us with hell lot of problems as we working on how to solve that and maintain supply over the weekend. “All the air assets from Australia and New Zealand will go mid next week. Also that’s the issue with food, but we also have Oil Search Limited that have gone beyond the call of duty.


New Life-saving Device

Post Courier, March 16, 2018

A LIFE-saving device for newborn babies will soon be available throughout Papua New Guinea after being successfully trialed in three hospitals.

The tiny device, a bracelet on a baby’s wrist, will alert doctors, nurses and parents when a new baby loses body heat (neonatal hypothermia) which normally causes death if undetected.

The PNG findings were revealed yesterday by a team from the Disease Control Centre in Atlanta (USA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Health Department, the University of Goroka and non-governmental group “Touching the Untouchable” in partnership with the Eastern Highlands Provincial Health Authority that trialed the devise with 448 newborn babies.

The first-of-its-kind research was carried out at the Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH), Goroka Provincial Hospital and Henganofi Health Centre in the Eastern Highlands Province.

According to UNICEF’s health specialist Dr Ghanashyam Sethy, the hypothermia bracelet, locally dubbed ‘Bebi Kol Kilok’, is a simple, innovative device which detects and alerts in the event of neonatal hypothermia, enabling improved thermal care of newborns. He said this device is put on the baby’s wrist immediately after birth and it monitors the baby continuously for one month both at the health facility and at home. “PNG has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world and this is one of the efforts to help address this issue,” Dr Sethy said, adding that between 5000 and 6000 newborns die in PNG every year from preventable diseases. He said that while pneumonia was a common killer, hypothermia was another killer not widely known and happens when the body temperature of the baby falls below 36.5 degree celsius as against the normal body temperature of between 36.5 degrees and 37.5 degrees. When an alarm on the bracelet goes off, the mother will do a skin-to-skin transmission of body heat by holding the naked baby to her chest initially, later covering the body while the heat is transferred until the alarm stops to indicate that the child has regain his or her normal body temperature, Dr Sethy said. He said if the alarm continues on sounding after doing that then it indicates that the mother should get the baby to the nearest aid post or health centre.


TB up by 70pc in 5 years

March 22, 2018The National

NEW cases of tuberculosis increased by over 70 per cent in the past five years despite the national strategic plan to control the disease implemented by the Health Department in 2015.
Director for Public Health Dr Niko Wuatai said the increase was mainly due to patients’ failure to complete their treatment. Wuatai said when people did not complete their six-month treatment, it eventually led to multi-drug resistant TB, more expensive to treat and harder to overcome. “The hotspots in the country include National Capital District, Western and Gulf,” he said. National Capital District had the highest increase in the country with 3.3 per cent every year, he said. Wuatai said TB was a disease associated with poverty, and with living conditions in settlement areas had supported the spread of the disease.
With yearly increase, the Health Department had implemented the national strategic plan to control TB in 2015 and result showed:

  • An increase of over 70 per cent of new cases of TB in the last past five years;
  • medicine supply from WHO was in stock and in good quality;
  • TB patient receiving HIV tests had increase from 13 per cent in 2011 to an average of 24 per cent in 2016, some provinces recorded about 40 per cent;
  • children made up more than a quarter of TB caseload in the country; and,
  • TB is among the top five causes for hospital admission.


76 college students face expulsion

March 26, 2018 The National

SEVENTY-six students from Enga Teachers’ College found to have defrauded the college of more than K120,000 in fake school fee receipts since last year will be expelled today.
The final decision was reached by a 13-member governing council of the college in their meeting on Saturday after a Criminal Investigation Division unit from Wabag gave their report. Led by Enga police commander George Kakas a team went to the college and interviewed each student who was implicated last week after being invited to investigate.
Kakas said each student who was in their first to third year and elementary teachers admitted to the offence of conspiring with a syndicate, that falsely claimed to be provincial education officials trying to help students meet their full fees. According to Kakas, the syndicate crime as testified to by the students during the interview, started last year, the masterminds collected certain upfront payments as well as pigs and goats before producing receipts of full payment.
“It is a massive fraud, a criminal offence committed against Enga Teachers College. We cannot tolerate it. We’ve presented our reports to the school witnessed by two education officers who came from Port Moresby. “The penalty against such crime (conspiracy to defraud) is a maximum of seven years imprisonment. But we leave it to the school board to decide which course of action to take as we further assist them.”
Those that are facing termination are Year 1: eight students; Year 2: 26; Year 3: 37; and Elementary: 5 students. The students produced fake school fee receipts and got enrolled in 2017 and 2018, amounting to K122,180.
College bursar Odilia Turuk showed all the fake school fee receipts which were identified after making cross checks with the bank (BSP) branch in Wabag.


Quake described as a “curse” from God

Post Courier March 8, 2018

THE multi-church group Body of Christ has described the recent natural disasters experienced in the country as a “curse.” In his capacity as the chairman of the Body of Christ that is made up of Evangelical Churches and few mainline and Para church groups, Pastor Joseph Walters said this in light of the recent United Nations vote by Papua New Guinea on United State of America’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. “We believe that there is a connection between these two issues because the Church that where Jesus Christ is the head and we are the body has its roots in Israel and as a Christian nation, our faith is rooted and originates from Israel.

“Vote against USA is a vote against Israel and God because according to the Book of Genesis verse 12 Chapter 3: “If you bless Israel, I will bless you and if you curse Israel, I will curse you. “We therefore, view and believe that the disasters we are experiencing now are a direct consequence of that vote.

“We fear that many more will follow if no one steps in and avert it quickly by saying sorry and stick to the promises in 2 Chronicles 7: 14 which states: if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, repent their sins and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sins and heal their land,” he said. He said they consider this as dangerous because for any country or person for that matter, tempers with the roots, he or she is inviting trouble and especially when he is a leader, he is bringing trouble to the people that he leads.

“This is what has happen to the extent with the recent UN vote by PNG on USA’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem on Dec 21 by the ambassador as well as the foreign affairs department.

“This vote was taken against a friend that we cannot dare to turn our backs against as it is not a physical, bilateral, political and economical friend, but a friend who is deeply connected to our faith and that is the nation of Israel.

“Despite much animosity and hatred against this nation by different groups of people all over the world, as long as time existed, Israel has become a genuine friend of PNG.

“We want to affirm Prime Minister O’Neill for his stance and support for Israel because PNG has seriously betrayed this friendship,” he said.

He said those heartless and thoughtless people who make decisions like that do not know that dire consequences it will bring upon the nation. He said it is so dangerous when you deal with scriptures and nations that are tied with God’s Word, Will plan and time. He said the Government has violated its own policy of friends to all and enemies to none. “The best thing that can happen to overrule and over ride the vote is for PM and his Government to come out clearly and tell the nation that PNG will definitely build its embassy in Jerusalem.

“The Church leadership is ready to raise the funds to contribute in building the embassy,” he said. He said in any future dealings to implicate spiritual consequences, the Government must consult the Church so they can play their roles as prophets and they as Kings and Rulers so that together, they can bring in that balance and build security for the welfare and well being of the nation.


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