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NZ Red Cross assists volcano-affected villagers
26 November 2004

NZ Red Cross assists volcano-affected villagers in Papua New Guinea

New Zealand Red Cross is giving $10,000 to replenish emergency shelter materials and water containers for residents affected by volcanic activity on Papua New Guinea’s Manam Island.

Much of the island is covered in ash and the risk of a major eruption remains high after a month of increasing volcanic activity. The eruptions have prompted a voluntary evacuation of 16 villages on the island – home to 9000 people.

New Zealand Red Director General Flora Gilkison said today it was critical to get help to the region as quickly as possible.

“The $10,000 from New Zealand will help to replenish disaster relief supplies which are quickly being exhausted,” Flora Gilkison said. Supplies will be purchased in Port Moresby and flown in.

A Red Cross assessment team has visited the island and reported that protracted volcanic activity has deposited large amounts of ash which, after rain, has led to the collapse of a number of traditionally built houses in the worst-affected villages. Some crops have been completely destroyed by volcanic ash and food shortages are being reported in most villages.

“The threat posed by the volcano goes beyond the risk of a large-scale eruption to the less visible but no less serious critical shortage of food and clean water,” Flora Gilkison said.

“Evacuation does not automatically solve these problems as the arrival of evacuees on the mainland will put scarce resources there under stress. Water rationing is already being imposed in parts of Bogia, on the mainland, where many evacuees are expected to be located.”

The Papua New Guinea Red Cross has supplied water containers, tarpaulins and some locally-donated food to residents in the worst-affected areas. Its immediate focus will be on completing the distribution of shelter materials, water containers and water storage facilities for displaced communities both on the mainland and the island.

The International Federation if Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has also released CHF 50,000 from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to assist the region.


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