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Food, Shelter And Medicine On The Move In PNG

Food, Shelter And Medicine On The Move In PNG

People living in the flood-stricken Oro region of Papua New Guinea (PNG) are now receiving Australian assistance with the arrival of 27 tonnes of humanitarian stores.

Supporting the Papua New Guinea National Disaster Centre, Australia's overseas aid agency - AusAID, the ADF, the Anglican Church and non-government organisations (NGOs) have been conducting and coordinating ongoing needs assessments throughout the province which will ensure aid is delivered to those who most need it.

The Australian Government has committed $1m to assist the PNG relief effort with approximately five tonnes of Australian relief supplies arriving late last week, comprising urgently needed stores, particularly water containers, tarpaulins, generators, blankets and water purification tablets.

$500,000 has been distributed to key NGOs who are well placed in PNG to contribute to the relief effort. A senior AusAID officer and his team of staff are assisting the State of Emergency Controller with coordination and distribution efforts.

Commander of the Australian assistance operation, Group Captain Tim Innes, said a significant load of AusAID humanitarian stores arrived in Port Moresby over the weekend.

"An additional 14 pallets of stores has arrived in Port Moresby for urgent distribution. Demonstrating its heavy lift capabilities, the equivalent of two C-130J Hercules were lifted in a single Air Force C-17 sortie to PNG over the weekend.

"A further 70 tonnes of humanitarian stores located in Lae is being loaded on a Royal Australian Navy heavy landing craft today for delivery to Gona Beach and Oro Bay. These stores are expected to arrive on Wednesday," said GPCAPT Innes.

Three Caribou transport aircraft and three Army Black Hawk helicopters have joined the relief effort to help distribute crucial food, medical supplies and shelter to the many isolated communities and villages in Oro province.

AusAID Coordinator in Popondetta, Bill Costello said one of the biggest challenges is reaching the many communities that have been isolated because the bridges and villages have been washed away.

"Many tonnes of crucial food, shelter, water and medical supplies are being airlifted to a central point in the province, near Popondetta, where it is being moved by Caribou to smaller landing strips around the province. From this point, the Black Hawks will distribute the aid directly into the isolated villages," said Mr Costello.

"We are continuing to get a better picture of the needs in the affected areas and we will use local distribution systems and procure food locally where possible."

Health assessment teams and an engineering and infrastructure reconnaissance team are reviewing the region in order to determine the most immediate needs for assistance and the most effective way to provide this support. While no significant problems currently exist, health assessments are also being conducted on the risks posed by malaria and dysentery.


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