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PNG: Cyclone Guba Situation Report No. 1


This report is based on information from UN Agencies, the Government of Papua New Guinea (GoPNG), and other responders and donors.

Papua New Guinea: Cyclone Guba OCHA Situation Report No. 1

SITUATION

1. Category 1 Tropical Cyclone Guba struck Papua New Guinea 12-16 November 2007, bringing torrential rains and high tides which have caused severe flooding in Oro and Milne Bay provinces in the east of the country. The Government of PNG reports that 145,000 people are affected in Sohe and Ijivitari districts and Popondetta Town in Oro Province alone, while the provincial Police report to date some 163 casualties, with at least 13,000 displaced. However, comprehensive and verified data is not yet available.

2. Oro province remains virtually cut off, with most access possible only by air or sea. The provincial capital, Popondetta, which has a population of 20,000, has no functioning source of potable water, after treatment plants and tanks were severely damaged. Numerous roads and bridges have been made impassable by landslides or washed away by floodwater, including the road to Oro airport. There are also reports of houses in some villages being washed away, as well as crops and livestock.

3. Aid is beginning to reach the affected areas, but provincial authorities have requested specific assistance with food (rationed in some areas), medical supplies and disease prevention efforts. UN agencies and NGOs have also highlighted urgent temporary shelter and watsan needs. Electricity generating capacity is currently greatly reduced and fuel supplies have also been affected.

NATIONAL RESPONSE

4. A State of Emergency was declared by the Government on 19 November, and Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare announced the immediate release of 50 million PGK (18.5 million USD) to assist affected communities, in addition to 2.6 million USD made available directly to the Papua New Guinea National Disaster Centre (NDC), tasked with overall coordination of the Government response. 100,000 PGK has also been granted to Oro Provincial Administration for provision of emergency supplies.

5. NDC Emergency Operations Centres have been established in Port Moresby and Popondetta, and PNG military personnel and assets mobilized to support relief and rescue efforts. PNG Defence Force and Navy aircraft and vessels have been dispatched to the affected areas with relief supplies.

6. PNG Red Cross Society (PNGRCS) deployed skilled staff and volunteers to support Popondetta-based colleagues, and pre-positioned stocks of relief supplies including tarpaulins and water containers were shipped to Oro province on 20 November. The IFRC country delegation is providing ongoing support, including the allocation of DREF funds and liaison with other stakeholders.

7. GoPNG made a formal request to in-country NGOs, INGOs and diplomatic missions and humanitarian agencies today for additional assistance. This had been requested by some organizations in order to facilitate their mobilization of support, some of which is already en route or in-country.

COORDINATED IN-COUNTRY RESPONSE

8. A National Coordinating Committee for Cyclone Guba was also established by a decision of the National Disaster Committee of the Ministry of Inter-Government Relations on 21 November. This NCC is co-chaired by OCHA, and is meeting daily to coordinate between GoPNG, UN agencies, I/NGOs and the PNG Red Cross Society.

9. NCC members agreed to conduct a series of inter-agency assessment missions to the worst affected areas. These airborne missions began today, 22 November, and will continue over the next 2-3 days. Inter-agency teams will conduct village level assessments, focusing on overall priority needs, sectoral needs, and number of affected households. Oxfam, Caritas, CARE Australia, Salvation Army, WHO and others are participating in this initiative with GoPNG partners. Resulting information is hoped to be available by 26 November.

10. Donors, NGO partners and OCHA have agreed to provide additional staff to support NDC coordination operations in Port Moresby (PoM). Strengthening of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in Popondetta was also designated a priority: a Controller from the PNG military has been appointed and he and other colleagues are now setting up in Popondetta. AusAID has deployed five in-country international staff to support the EOC, including logistics, medical and administrative officers.

11. NCC partners are already deploying staff, equipment and supplies to the affected areas, (PNG RCS shipping 700 tarpaulins, 800 water containers to Popondetta; Caritas is distributing food in Popondetta care centres; WHO is liaising with National Department of Health on despatch of basic medicines and supplies; UNICEF is awaiting clearance of emergency supplies stuck in PoM), while others have been awaiting reliable assessment data or formal GoPNG request to proceed with their assistance plans.

INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE

12. OCHA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) has maintained close contact with its country presence, and offered the UN RC additional assistance, including the option to mobilize the OCHA Emergency Cash Grant facility or apply for CERF funding. These are being considered by the UNRC and Country Team, but are unlikely to be requested while adequate resources are committed by GoPNG and other donors in-country, and until more detailed assessment data is available.

13. AusAID received a formal request for support on 21 November, and have since begun assessments using aircraft in-country. AusAID has already deployed staff and resources from regional bases to support the GoPNG response. The Australian Government announced that it is ready to assist and is now pursuing a clearer indication from the PNG Government of the extent of this disaster and what if any assistance might be required.

14. IFRC has allocated 22,400 USD from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to respond to humanitarian needs and to replenish disaster preparedness stocks distributed to the affected population. Australian and French Red Cross teams also have emergency response WASH teams on standby.

15. USAID/OFDA announced that the United Sates has donated 50,000 USD via the Embassy in PoM for relief efforts through IFRC/PNG RCS.

16. NZAID has provided 100,000 NZ$ to PNG RCS from its regional emergency fund via the New Zealand Red Cross for provision of mosquito nets, tarpaulins, water containers and cooking utensils.

17. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA-managed ReliefWeb website at http://www.reliefweb.int.

ENDS

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