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NZ assists volcano-affected Manam Islanders

NZ assists volcano-affected Manam Islanders

Aid Minister Marian Hobbs today announced a strengthening of the partnership between New Zealand’s international aid and development agency, NZAID and World Vision PNG, which is providing much-needed food aid for almost 10,000 Manam Islanders made homeless by recent volcanic activity.

"Since December we have been working with World Vision to assist those affected by the eruptions," Marian Hobbs said. "I have recently approved additional funding of $750,000 which will take New Zealand’s contribution so far to around $1 million. "

Manam Island is a volcanic island 15 km off the coast of PNG that began erupting in October 2004. With continued eruptions, the entire population of Manam was evacuated to the mainland in December. They are currently housed in temporary care centres along the northeast coast of PNG.

"People who are evacuated under these sort of circumstances face many difficulties, as there is little time to prepare or adjust," Marian Hobbs said. "Those evacuated from Manam Island have no established land or fishing rights on the mainland, so the ability to provide their own food is limited. Symptoms of malnutrition are evident, especially among the children. The provision of a nutritional diet is important.

"With New Zealand’s funding World Vision food distribution is secured. This means those evacuated can rely, in the short-term, on food deliveries including local food and vegetables.

"Conditions in the care centres are cramped, and other issues such as the provision of adequate fresh water, health care and sanitation remain to be resolved.

"New Zealand may consider making a further contribution, as on-going volcanic activity means it is unlikely those evacuated will ever return to live on Manam.

"International assistance may be required for up to two years, while land issues are resolved and until work is underway to resettle Manam Islanders permanently and safely."

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