Sunday, March 25, 2018

Chris Owen - requiem for a filmmaker between worlds

by Les McLaren,
March 12, 2018

Chris Owen - veteran filmmaker and the guiding presence behind many prominent documentaries from Papua New Guinea -died this month.
Chris Owen with an Enga man during the filming of  Tighten The Drums in 1974.

His father was killed flying over France in WW2, while his mother was an executive assistant in Bomber Command.
Owen was born in the UK in 1944.
He came to Australia in 1961 and worked variously as a bank clerk, a station-hand, wheat farmer and as a psychiatric nurse.
 In 1968, he travelled overland back to the UK where he completed a Diploma in Visual Communication in Birmingham.
He arrived in Papua New Guinea in 1972 as a photographer with the Tourist Board when the country was still under Australian control, and remained there as a resident until 2010.
 In 1974 he joined the newly established Institute of PNG Studies, and made his first film Tighten the Drums, about ceremonial decoration in the Western Highlands.
In September 1975 he documented an elaborate fertility ritual in the remote border area of the West Sepik, and days later filmed the nearby Independence celebrations for Dennis O’Rourke’s documentary Yumi Yet.
This was Chris’ first contribution to a suite of landmark documentaries made by Australians in PNG over the next 25 years.
He would go on to collaborate as cinematographer, associate producer, advisor and friend with Dennis O’Rourke, Gary Kildea, Bob Connolly, Robin Anderson, Andrew Pike, Les McLaren, Annie Stiven, Alec Morgan, Noriko Sekiguchi and Oliver Howes, as well as with leading filmmakers and anthropologists from Australia, France, Japan, the UK, US and New Zealand.
The list of prize-winning/renowned films he collaborated on include Yumi Yet, Ileksen, Sharkcallers of Kontu, Angels of War, Cannibal Tours, First Contact, Joe Leahy’s Neighbours, Black Harvest, Cowboy and Maria in Town, Taking Pictures and the Japanese production, Senso Daughters.
And there was his own impressive and prizewinning body of documentaries including The Red Bowmen, Gogodala – A Cultural Revival?, Malangan Labadama, Man Without Pigs, Bridewealth for a Goddess and Betelnut Bisnis.
The last was commissioned by SBS.
These films stand out for their compelling images of culture and change in PNG, and an engagement with the issues and influences affecting ordinary people at the village level.
He also directed a feature film with Albert Toro, Tukana – Husat I Asua? (Who’s to Blame?) about the impact of the Bougainville mine which screened on SBS, and also made information outreach works such as Ramu Pawa (a 5-year cinematic diary of the giant Yonki Dam), Lukautim Bus (Look After Nature), and Re-Forestation Naturally.
Chris believed strongly in the power of film to inform people and shape outcomes for a better society, and it was the mentoring of PNG filmmakers and the promotion of community video production which pre-occupied his last decade in PNG.
 After training filmmakers at the Institute of PNG Studies, he moved to Goroka to become Director of the National Film Institute, where he guided many emerging PNG filmmakers including Martin Maden, Baike Johnston, Leoni Kanawi, Ruth Ketau and Ignatius Talania.
The current head of the National Film Institute is a female filmmaker and archivist, Chicco Baru, also mentored by Chris.
He was generous in many ways to many people, and despite his fulsome advocacy against the self interests of the powerful, he was a disarming and witty raconteur – drawing on a wealth of hair-raising and remarkable adventures in the Land of the Unexpected.
As well as numerous international awards for his films, Chris was also honoured with PNG’s distinguished Order of Logoho in 2010, a lifetime achievement award from the Society for Visual Anthropology (USA) in 2017, and Honorary Membership of the Australian Cinematographers’ Association in 2018.
But perhaps the most fitting testimony is from PNG filmmaker Martin Maden: "I do not know of one other culture whose children will inherit a film heritage such as the one Chris Owen has given to the people of Papua New Guinea."
Chris died on 9 March 2018 in the Fred Ward Gardens nursing home in Canberra, after a long battle with illness and blindness.
His detailed credits can be found here.
A glimpse of the band of Australians who have worked in PNG is provided by the NFSA which quotes an interviewee in Kama Wosi, which Les McLaren made in 1979.

"What are you taking pictures for? Day and night, day and night taking pictures for nothing. You take these pictures and then take them away. What does it mean."


Les McLaren is a veteran documentary filmmaker who has made many films in PNG with Annie Stiven since the early 1970's.
Taking Pictures and Cowboy and Maria In Town are among five films which have been shown in festivals around the world.
In 2003 Les spent four months in Bougainville working with the UN-led peace monitoring group as a liaison officer with Bougainvillean, Australian, New Zealand, Fijian and ni-Vanuatu personnel.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

6.8-magnitude quake hits off Kimbe, Papua New Guinea: USGS

HONG KONG, March 24 (Xinhua) -- An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 jolted 146 km east of Kimbe, capital of the province of West New Britain of Papua New Guinea on Saturday at 9.23pm local time, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said.
The epicenter, with a depth of 59.7 km, was initially determined to be at 5.743 degrees south latitude and 151.452 degrees east longitude.
Reuters reported the revised 6.3 quake posed no tsunami threat to the region.
There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties from the quake, which comes after the magnitude 7.5 tremor that rocked the country’s mountainous mainland Highlands on Feb 26, killing 100 people.
The epicenter of Saturday’s quake was located 180 kilometers (112 miles) southwest of Rabaul on New Britain island, some 900 km northeast of the capital Port Moresby, at a depth of 68 km (40 miles), the U.S Geological Survey (USGS) said. 
The quake was revised down from an initial reading of magnitude 6.8 and a depth of 60 km.
“Based on all available data a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected,” the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin.
Quakes are common in Papua New Guinea, which sits on the Pacific’s 'Ring of Fire', a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates. Rabaul lies in the shadow of Mount Tavurvur, an active volcano that destroyed the town in 1994 during a severe eruption.
The latest quake comes as Papua New Guinea struggles to get aid to desperate survivors of the Feb 26 quake, which flattened whole villages and spoiled water supplies on the country’s main island. 
A month on, disaster and relief officials say the scale of the emergency is testing the finances and capacity of the country.
The country is also missing its largest revenue earner, after the quake forced a shutdown of ExxonMobil Corp’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, which has annual sales of US$3 billion at current LNG prices. 
The firm is still assessing quake damage at its facilities.

Update on Anglican response to Papua New Guinea earthquake | March 23, 2018

The Anglican Alliance has been in touch with the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea after a large earthquake of 7.5 magnitude struck on 26th February.

People affected by the earthquake in PNG. Source: AMB
The quake has caused landslides and sinkholes in the region, and phone lines have been cut.
 Aftershocks continue to cause fear, particularly after one of 6.7 magnitude hit the same area on 8th March.
Staff from the Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) Australia have been in PNG working with the church leadership to shape the humanitarian response.
The official death toll has risen to 145 but still has further to climb, officials have said. It is expected that the figure might increase once all people have been accounted for. From the reports received at the command centres in Tari and Mendi, 45 have died so far in the Southern Highlands province and in Hela 80 people are confirmed dead. About 270,000 people, including 125,000 children, require urgent humanitarian assistance.
As well as food, water is a challenge as traditional water sources have been interrupted, with the danger of water borne diseases as people are forced to drink from unsafe sources.
 Shelter and health are also priority needs. Aftershocks are continuing in some areas and people are not returning to their homes and mountainside crops for fear of further landslides.
The Church Partnership Program in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has brought together members of the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea, the Baptist Union of PNG, the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventist and the United Church in PNG.
The United Church has established church-led response centres in Tari, Hela Province and Mendi, Southern Highlands, to coordinate initial needs assessments and share church actions and to plan for the coordinated response and recovery efforts.
“People are bewildered and traumatised by the severe events . . . and families continue to sleep outside for fear of the ongoing aftershocks,” said United Church Bishop Wai Tege.
“People of the highlands are not used to the impact of natural disasters, and this Magnitude 7.5 earthquake has taken everyone by surprise.
" The last major earthquake to hit the highlands region . . . was in 1922 – almost a century ago.”
Many people have been traumatised by the earthquake and aftershocks.
We continue to ask for prayers from around the Communion for all those who are acting to respond in the relief effort.
The Church intends to purchase supplies locally, in Goroka or Mt Hagen, and transport them to parishes by road or air. Archbishop Allan Migi is asking Anglicans and others to support the emergency appeal.
Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) in Australia seeks to raise funds for humanitarian aid so that vital supplies of food and water can be provided for the many people in need.
To donate to ABM’s PNG Earthquake Emergency Appeal please visit here.
Anglican Missions Board of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has also launched an appeal. To donate please click on this link.
We will continue to update this page as more information comes in .
Please continue to pray for those affected by the earthquake and pray for  the Church’s response.

God of all creation, we lift up before you the nation of Papua New Guinea and especially the people of the Highlands Province as they recover from earthquakes and landslides. We mourn with them for those who have died, we pray for the healing of those who are injured, for strength and courage for all those who work to provide safe shelter, to bring aid and recovery. We pray for Bishop Nathan, Archbishop Allan and all who provide leadership to these communities in this time of need. May your strength, wisdom and hope rest upon them and all they serve. We pray for the whole Anglican Church of PNG, for the people of Mendi and the communities throughout the Highlands, that they may know the presence of your compassionate and life-giving spirit, that they may work together for the good of all people. Through Christ our Lord we pray, Amen.

– Bishop Andrew Hedge, Diocese of Waiapu (New Zealand partner diocese to ACPNG)

The challenges of tuberculosis in Papua New Guinea | March 23, 2018

Three years ago, tuberculosis (TB) became the joint lead as the world’s deadliest infectious disease - neck and neck with HIV/AIDS.
In Papua New Guinea (PNG), the epidemic is such that the government has declared a state of emergency in several provinces.
Giakila was diagnosed with drug-resistant TB at Gerehu Hospital, Port Moresby, where MSF supports TB treatment and diagnosis.

With an estimated 30,000 new cases in 2016, expanding and improving TB care in PNG is an uphill battle.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing TB diagnosis and treatment in two of these provinces: Gulf Province and National Capital District, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health.

Extreme geography

In Gulf Province MSF’s teams are based in Kerema – a town seven hours’ drive from the capital, Port Moresby, and literally at the end of the road.
Further west, there are no roads and extremely limited access to healthcare and other services.
Patients travel for hours or even days to reach our clinics, using a combination of dinghies, cars and walking.
Transport can be prohibitively expensive – around 100 kina (40 US dollars) for a few hours in a dinghy.
It’s not only the extreme geography that is challenging.
In the remote villages around Kerema, access to education is limited.
The low health literacy of some patients means they were never explained essential facts about TB, including the fact it is infectious, or that it passes through the air. Many people across the country still believe TB is an effect of witchcraft.
These geographical and cultural barriers contribute to one of MSF’s biggest challenges – ensuring that patients adhere to TB treatment.
TB is not a simple chest infection.
It’s an insidious infection with very hard-to-kill bacteria.
 Successfully treating TB takes at least six months, using a combination of various antibiotics.
Some patients develop drug-resistant TB: when the bacteria mutates to resist the drugs because they are not taken in the necessary amounts, intervals or combinations.
 For these patients treatment takes up to two years, including daily injections in the early stages.
 Patients often encounter serious side effects such as nausea, nerve damage and deafness.
Sticking to TB treatment is critical not only to cure individual patients, but also to reduce the risk of drug resistance developing in the community.
 Patients who develop drug resistance can infect others with these strong and deadlier strains.
 If this happens on a larger scale, the epidemic will claim more lives and become even harder to manage.

Improving adherence

While patients defaulting on their treatment is a huge problem for our teams, we’re working hard to increase treatment adherence.
All patients are provided with counselling and education to improve their understanding of the disease and to follow up their treatment.
 By embedding an anthropologist in our medical operations, we also try to increase our understanding of the local context and improve treatment adherence.
We have decentralised our care to bring treatment closer to patients.
 In Gulf Province teams travel for hours, often by boat and road, to visit health posts in small villages for regular consultations. We also provide transport to help patients reach care, as well as run a network of community health workers and treatment supporters who visit patients at home.
In Port Moresby, the outreach team provides home visits for patients with difficulties accessing their clinic or adhering to treatment, in an effort to reduce the still-high rate of patients ‘lost to follow up’.

Enhancing TB management

In many low-income settings, TB continues to be diagnosed as it was a century ago: sputum samples are examined under a microscope for signs of the tuberculosis bacillus.
The most reliable test of this type takes two months.
In many countries, this is complicated further by the lack of laboratories equipped for TB diagnosis, meaning samples need to be sent to a capital city, or even overseas. For these reasons the disease often goes undiagnosed, or far later than it should. In much of PNG, this remains the case.
In recent years TB diagnoses were revolutionised by a device called the GeneXpert, which can test for the presence of bacteria in less than two hours.
(It can also test for resistance to the TB drug rifampicin - meaning it can help diagnose drug-resistant TB.)
MSF uses GeneXpert in both Gulf Province and Port Moresby.
This means patients can be diagnosed and begin treatment far quicker.
 In 2017, our teams started 2,100 people on TB treatment in both projects.

UNICEF lifesaving supplies reach Papua New Guinea to help children and families hardest hit by earthquakes | March 23, 2018

UNICEF has this week delivered 23 metric tons of relief supplies to Papua New Guinea, including tents and tarpaulins, water purification tablets, hygiene kits, blankets and learning kits as part of ongoing efforts to help children and families who were hardest hit by recent earthquakes.
Barbara, 8, lost her elder sister and her cousin when a boulder struck their house. She has been living in difficult conditions at the makeshift camp with her father, Iso Putap, since 27 Feburary. © UNICEF/PNG-2018/JamesMepham

On February 26, a massive earthquake of 7.5 magnitude hit four provinces of Papua New Guinea, followed by another two major earthquakes and nearly 100 aftershocks.
More than 100 people were killed, with many more injured in landslides and collapsing houses.
The PNG Government estimates 270,000 people are in need of urgent assistance, including 125,000 children.
“Children’s lives are in danger,” said Karen Allen, UNICEF Representative for PNG. “With limited access to basic necessities, families are struggling to survive in crowded shelters, or to rebuild homes and food gardens.”
To date, UNICEF has already delivered 12,000 packets of therapeutic food and enough vaccines to protect 31,700 children against the increasing risk of disease outbreak and malnutrition.
Papua New Guinea already had low vaccination coverage and the world’s fourth highest rate of chronically malnourished children.
 UNICEF is working with the PNG Government and partners to ensure humanitarian supplies are distributed to affected communities as quickly as possible. Access to remote and isolated villages remains a huge challenge across vast and rugged terrain. UNICEF needs AU$17 million (US$14.6 million) to provide humanitarian assistance to children and families affected by the earthquake over the next nine months.
This will help provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene in temporary shelters, psycho-social support in safe places, vaccinations and malnutrition treatment, and support for children to return to school.
“The relief supplies that have been delivered today by UNICEF are part of the overall support by the Government of PNG, the United Nations System, the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, other humanitarian partners, and the private sector, to the affected people of PNG,” said Mr. Gianluca Rampolla, the UN Resident Coordinator in PNG.
“We have been working together since the onset of the disaster to help those most in need, and will continue to do so.” 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Only 37 per cent of people have access to clean water in Papua New Guinea

 by Anne Gulland,
March 21, 2018

People in Cape Town are forced to queue for water as a drought has led to the government warning that the city's taps may soon run dry
Captain Eric Aliawi of HeliSolutions supervising water bottles for delivery to earthquake victims at Mori Airport.-Picture by MALUM NALU

Access to clean, safe drinking water is seen as one of the most important ways to improve a nation’s health but a report shows that for nearly a billion people, this is far from reality.
The charity Water Aid estimates that around 844 million people around the world have to make at least a 30-minute round trip to get clean, safe water or are forced to drink from unprotected sources or directly from rivers or lakes, almost certainly risking their health.
Drinking and bathing in dirty water leads to a host of health problems such as diarrhoeal disease, which kills 289,000 children every year, skin infections and illnesses such as trachoma, a painful eye condition which can lead to blindness.
The report from Water Aid ranks countries in terms of access with Eritrea at the bottom of the list, with just 19 per cent of its population having access to a clean water supply.
This is followed by Papua New Guinea, where just 37 per cent have the most basic access and Uganda where just 38  per cent of the population have safe drinking water.
 India has the largest number of people lacking access to clean water, with more than 163 million people without even the most basic water supply.
India faces great strains on its water supply: falling groundwater levels, drought and demand from industry.
However, the country has also made great strides in recent years - with 300m people gaining access to clean water since 2000. Last year the government committed to providing clean water to 90 per cent of rural households by 2022.
The report also looks at how countries have changed over time and, despite its ongoing problems, Afghanistan has made the most progress.
In 2015 63 per cent of the population had access to clean water, compared to 27 per cent in 2000.
Yemen has also made great improvements over the same period - from 43 per cent in 2000 to 70 per cent in 2015 - however, the report warns that the civil war ravaging the country will damage this progress.
The report also highlights the inequalities within countries - in Nigeria for example only 30 per cent of the poorest people have access to clean water, compared to 89 per cent of the richest.
The situation is similar in Mali - just 45 per cent of the poorest people have clean water, compared to 93 per cent of the richest.
The report highlights the issue of water security around the world: Cape Town, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations has warned that its taps may run dry this year and its residents have been forced to queue at pipes for water.
Jonathan Farr, senior policy analyst for water security and climate change at Water Aid, said water had to become a political priority.
"If the investment, political will and capability is there we see huge changes in a very short space of time.
" In sub-Saharan Africa there are 407m people who don't have access to clean water.
"These countries have a lot of potential but we need to see it becoming a political priority like it has in Cape Town," he said.
But he warned that water security was becoming an issue for developed nations as well.
"There are threats such as climate change and lifestyle changes such as industrialisation which have a huge impact on water supply.
"Even in global cities like Cape Town water is in jeopardy - and Beijing and London have also had problems," he said. 

PNG Earthquake Response Logistics Situation Update (21 March 2018)
March 21, 2018


The Australian Defence Force, (ADF) is considering requests for assistance, using the Hercules C-130J, for ad-hoc rotations between Port Moresby/Mt Hagen and Moro, into early next week.
The RAAF C-130J at Moro Airport last Saturday.-Picture by MALUM NALU

 Request for Assistance (RFA), must be submitted for requests to be considered, and the Australian DFAT has requested agency distribution plans for their consideration when making a decision on the acceptance of the task.
Oil Search Limited (OSL) has granted the use of their Moro facility as a logistics hub for operations to the earthquake affected areas that are only accessible via helicopter.
 This offer is conditional upon having a humanitarian logistics officer present as the focal point, as they transition the response to humanitarian partners.
OSL wrote to the Office of the Emergency Controller outlining the scope of their support.
While many access roads are being re-established, last-mile transport to locations only reachable via helicopter continues to be a major constraint for the response.
The Logistics Working Group is working on identifying commercial options to ensure that remote communities can be reached, however it needs the cooperation of the cluster leads to identify those communities.


ADF’s 3 Chinooks Helicopters, currently in Mt Hagen, are fully tasked and are not accepting further requests for airlift until their departure back to Australia, scheduled in the next few days.
Oil Search Limited has two Bell Helicopters stationed in Moro, which can be requested for airlift to affected areas on cost-recovery basis.
Mission Aviation Fellowship also has a number of available air assets - Twin Otter - on cost-recovery basis.


PNGDF truck assets have been requested by the Office of the Controller for use in the response around Hela and Southern Highlands.


Lae’s port is fully functional, with a yard for storage, and it is the recommended port of arrival for humanitarian cargo.
The road connecting Lae to Mt Hagen and Mendi is currently passable.
Options for river / barge movement via the Kikori river, and from Port Moresby to Lae, are also being looked into as an additional transportation options for goods bound to earthquake-affected areas and between major entry point of arrivals for humanitarian cargo.

Papua New Guinea: Highlands Earthquake Situation Report No. 4 (as of 21 March 2018)
 March 21, 2018

This report is produced by the National Disaster Centre, the Office of the Resident Coordinator and the United Nations Coordination and Assessment (UNDAC) Team in collaboration with humanitarian partners.
 It was issued by the Disaster Management Team Secretariat.
It covers the period from 18 March to 21 March 2018.
The next report will be issued on or around 27 March 2018.


According to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), 6,444 households (34,153 people) are displaced in 39 communities and informal care centers.
Almost 65 per cent of health facilities in Hela and Southern Highlands provinces are damaged and 32 per cent remain closed.
To date, 87 villages have been reached with food supplies in Hela, Southern Highlands and Western provinces.
Around 1,300 shelter and non-food items have been distributed in Southern Highlands and Hela provinces.
All airports in the affected regions are open except for Huya and Komo airfields, which are only open to helicopters.
The roads from Mt. Hagen to Tari and Tari to Mendi remain open.
Nipa to Magarima and Tari and Komo roads are partially accessible.
The road from Mendi to Moro remains closed.

270,000 people in need of assistance

87 villages reached with food

34,153 displaced people in 39 communities and care centers

269 schools in five LLGs (Hela) are damaged

Situation Overview

The National Disaster Centre (NDC) estimates that around 544,000 people have been affected in five provinces and that more than 270,000 people are in immediate need of assistance.
Over 125,000 are children, of which 55,000 children are under the age of five.
Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) teams completed assessments confirming that 6,444 households (34,153 people) are displaced in 39 communities and informal care centers.
Current figures estimate that 10,000 houses have been damaged and need immediate shelter assistance.
In Hela Province, of the 31 health facilities (not including aid posts) 90 per cent have been damaged to some extent.
In Southern Highlands Province, of the 46 facilities (not including aid posts) 45 per cent have been damaged.
Significant gaps remain in sanitation and hygiene support, including hygiene messaging, for affected areas.
According to Education Management Information System (EMIS) data on schools and number of students in the seven most affected LLGs, over 34,000 school children are enrolled in 368 schools, of which more than 23,000 children are in the five most affected LLGs of Hela.
 Reports from the SMS Blast/RapidPro among school inspectors and some teachers identified that 269 of 439 schools in five LLGs in Hela are damaged.
Provision and maintenance of water tanks, sanitation facilities, school buildings, learning materials and canvas for temporary shelter are the most pressing needs.
In Southern Highlands, 42 schools have submitted damage reports to the Department of Education.
The buildings of the Department of Education in both the provinces are badly damaged and most staff have not returned to work.
The toll-free trauma and crisis counselling hotline continues to receive calls from the affected areas.
Calls cover issues, such as fear of aftershocks, people needing assistance but have not been reached, distress due to loss of property, concern for relatives and general confusion about the cause of the earthquake.
Rumors and fear still have a huge influence on what people believe and how they can recover.
All airports in the affected regions are open except for Huya airstrip (Southern Highlands) and Komo airfield (Hela) which are only open to helicopters.
 The roads to Mt Hagen to Tari and Tari to Mendi remain open; there are reports on increasing traffic on these roads.
The road from Nipa to Magarima and onward to Tari and Komo is only partially accessible and the road between Mendi and Moro remains closed.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Oil Search sees Gobe plant operational this week after PNG quake
March 20, 2018

SYDNEY—Australia’s Oil Search Ltd. said on March 20 that it expects its Gobe processing plant and oil export pipeline in Papua New Guinea to be operational later this week, after a deadly earthquake hit last month.
Oil Search said the Gobe facility and its export pipeline were largely undamaged in the magnitude 7.5 quake that struck on Feb 26.
The company said its condensate handling facilities, part of the giant PNG LNG project, were also ready to receive PNG LNG condensate once production at the Hides gas conditioning plant comes back on stream.
The Hides plant was shut down after the quake by operator ExxonMobil, which said earlier this month the PNG LNG project would be shut for about eight weeks for inspections and repairs.
Oil Search said it expects its central processing facility at Kutubu, another oil and gas field, to be “progressively restored from late March,” while its Moran oil and gas field would take longer.
“The Agogo processing facility and the Moran 4, 6, 9 well pad, which are in the area most impacted by the earthquake, will require some repairs before production from the Moran field can recommence,” Oil Search said in a statement, without giving a repair timeline.
At least 100 people were killed when the powerful quake hit the remote and rugged highlands three weeks ago, triggering landslides that buried villages and destroyed infrastructure.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Health facilities devastated by PNG quake
March 21, 2018

21 MARCH 2018, PORT MORESBY - A third of all health facilities have closed in Hela and Southern Highlands provinces as a result of the Papua New Guinea earthquake.
On 26 February, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck Papua New Guinea, triggering landslides, affecting water sources and wiping out houses, health facilities, people and crops.
More than 190 aftershocks have been recorded, according to the United States Geological Survey, including one as recently as 20 March.
Results of a joint National Department of Health (NDOH) and World Health Organisation (WHO) assessment show that 25 out of 77 health facilities in the two worst-affected provinces are no longer functioning.
The total number of closed facilities is potentially higher, as data from eight health centres remains unavailable due to access constraints.
“This disruption to health service provision comes at a time when people are most in need of care,” said Dr Luo Dapeng, WHO Representative to Papua New Guinea.
 “As aftershocks continue, affected communities are dealing with injuries and psychological trauma.
"We’re also worried about potential outbreaks of epidemic-prone diseases.
"We must move swiftly to restore health services.”
Overcrowding in informal camps and a lack of access to clean drinking water and sanitation increase the risk of disease outbreaks.
Vaccination coverage was low prior to the earthquake and the country was already facing outbreaks of malaria, pertussis and measles.
Roads, rivers, airfields and bridges have been impacted by the earthquake in a part of the country prone to violence and insecurity.
Access to affected communities has therefore been extremely challenging.
“Responding to the health needs in Papua New Guinea is definitely not easy,” said Dr Luo.
“But we’re determined to find ways, alongside our partners, to deliver life-saving health services to even the hardest to reach communities.”
WHO is supporting the National Department of Health (NDOH), provincial health authorities and partners with information management, technical guidance and logistics.
As the Health Cluster lead agency, WHO plays an active role in coordinating the activities of 25 health partners in order to align efforts, fill gaps, avoid duplication and ensure that response efforts reach those most in need.
The organisation is also supporting the strengthening of disease surveillance and has pre-positioned medical supplies in preparation for potential outbreaks, including seven diarrhoeal disease kits and rapid diagnostic tests for dengue.

More Australian humanitarian assistance to Papua New Guinea

Media release
20 March 2018

Today during a visit to Port Moresby, I announce additional support for recovery and reconstruction efforts in Papua New Guinea’s highlands region following the devastating 7.5-magnitude earthquake on 26 February.
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop

More than 125 people were killed by the earthquake and its aftershocks and the UN estimates 500,000 people have been affected.

Australia has been helping with relief efforts through emergency supplies and specialist personnel, transport and distribution in affected areas, helping to restore electricity and supporting vulnerable women and children.

The ADF has played a vital role by providing a Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules and three Army CH-47F Chinook helicopters to support humanitarian activities.

These have enabled ADF members and their PNG Defence Force counterparts to deliver food, water and medicine to remote and badly affected communities.

My visit to Papua New Guinea will also give me the opportunity to meet and thank Australian Defence Force members who have been supporting the humanitarian relief effort.

The Australian Government is now providing an additional $3.4 million in assistance to help affected communities re-establish their livelihoods, repair and rebuild infrastructure and restore water and sanitation, with a specific focus on the needs of women, girls and people with disabilities.

 We have also deployed a three-person Australian Medical Assistance Team to assess health needs and determine what additional assistance may be required.

This brings our humanitarian aid for the earthquake response to $5 million.

Australia and PNG have a close and enduring friendship and we stand ready to provide further support to affected communities, if required.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Australian Rotary Club Papua New Guinea Earthquake Appeal

Rotary Club of Caloundra

To aid the recovery efforts in Papua New Guinea following the loss of life and property due to the Earthquake on 26 February 2018 in the Southern Highlands, our Rotary District 9600 has established an Earthquake Recovery Fund which will accept tax deductible donations.
The Government declared a state of emergency on 2 March for Hela, Southern Highlands, Western and Enga provinces.
According to initial estimates, over 544,000 people are affected across the five most affected provinces.
Over 270,000 people require immediate humanitarian assistance.
PNG is an important part of our Rotary District and needs our support following this disastrous event.
The appeal is open to the public, as well as to clubs and members, to make contributions.
Rotarians will know that on 26 February 2018 an earthquake of 7.5 magnitude occurred about 3am in an area of the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea.
Due to the isolated location access has been very difficult.
The PNG Army has been working with assistance from RAAF Chinook helicopters and C130 Hercules aircraft.
However due to landslides and damage to roads and bridges very little other support is getting through.
The area is still suffering aftershocks, with villagers not prepared to go back to their homes.
The current death toll has risen to 125 with over 35,000 displaced.
District has established a fund through Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS) to aid the recovery.
Past District Governor Charles Guesdon is the Project Manager ably assisted by Assistant Governor and PNG Liaison Mary Grant.
Donations to this fund are tax deductable through RAWCS.
District will make available $10,000 from the District Disaster Fund and clubs and members may make contributions through this link.
The Project name is:
Papua New Guinea Southern Highlands Earthquake recovery
The RAWCS reference is 75-2017-18
Further details will be circulated as they come to hand.
PNG is an important part of our District and need our support following this disastrous event.
Please consider and give generously.

Together in Rotary Service,
John Lane
Governor 2017-18

More information:
Papua New Guinea: Highlands Earthquake Situation Report No. 1 (as of 10 March 2018)

US, UN back efforts to assess impact of Papua New Guinea earthquake, deliver aid to survivors
March 16, 2018

Port Moresby – Almost three weeks after the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck Papua New Guinea’s remote provinces of Hela and Southern Highlands, International Organsation for Migration (IOM) teams are working with the government and partners to assess the full impact of the disaster and deliver essential lifesaving aid to survivors, even as landslides and aftershocks continue to affect the region.
The government estimates that over 544,000 people across five provinces were affected by the quake, which left at least 145 people dead.
Families in Hulia-Beleria displaced by the February 26, 2018, earthquake which struck Hela province, Papua New Guinea. Photo: David Helo / United Church in Hela

Over 270,000 are in need of immediate aid, including food, water, medicines, tarpaulins, tents and blankets.
The government and its aid agency and private sector partners have targeted seven of the worst-hit Local Level Governments (LLGs) in Hela and Southern Highlands provinces.
 It has also set up two forward operating bases and two emergency operations centres close to the quake’s epicentre.
But while main roads have largely been cleared, aid workers warn that damage estimates may continue to rise as many affected communities remain cut off by landslides and are only accessible by air.
“Many among the affected populations live in remote communities that are a challenge to access at the best of times.
"In the face of a natural disaster of this magnitude, they have become even more isolated.
"Air support to reach these people is critical,” said IOM PNG Chief of Mission Lance Bonneau.
IOM, which is leading the Shelter, Non-Food Item (NFI), and Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) clusters in the emergency response, has deployed displacement tracking teams, assisted by oil and gas company ExxonMobil and other local partners on the ground, to assess the impact, needs, and assistance gaps for people affected by the quake.
The mapping generated by the displacement tracking matrix (DTM) will contribute to the PNG National Disaster Center’s coordination of the multi-partner relief effort to ensure that the right assistance gets to the populations who need it most.
IOM, which this week received USD 100,000 from USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, has already delivered basic shelter and non-food relief items to over 400 displaced families.
The US funding will allow it to provide basic shelter, water and sanitation to another 800 of the hardest hit families and will also support training for local authorities and NGOs managing Care Centre shelters for quake survivors.
Another USD 100,000 channeled to IOM last week by UNOCHA – the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – will be used to provide more lifesaving aid, including shelter materials and water containers, to another 2,500 families.
“We welcome the support provided thus far, but the needs remain significant.
"The full impact of the earthquake is still coming to light, as landslides continue to affect unstable areas.
"Traditional water and food sources have been compromised and entire populations have been traumatised by the scale of this disaster.
"We need to continue to address the immediate needs of those most affected, but we also need to think about longer term recovery and reestablishment of community infrastructure.
"Shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene are critical needs now and will continue to be into the foreseeable future,” said Bonneau.

For further information, please contact IOM Port Moresby. Wonesai Sithole, Tel: +675 4 3213655 Email:  or Lance Bonneau, Tel: +675 321 36 55, Email:

Friday, March 16, 2018

PNG Air reports improved 2017 performance

PNG Air Press Release

PNG Air has reported a significantly improved performance in 2017 with overall revenue growing by 28% in 2017 compared to 2016.
“The growth in revenue despite soft prevailing economic conditions supports the airline’s strategy of re-fleeting by bringing in brand new ATRs and shows that we now provide a competitive alternative for the travelling public of Papua New Guinea,” said Murray Woo, chairman of directors of PNG Air.
PNG Air ATR at Kagamuga Airport in Mt Hagen.

“Our vision in re-fleeting and rebranding the Airline was to bring first world aviation services to PNG.
"Our challenge now is to make air travel more available to the people of PNG and to keep improving the service we offer."
While revenue grew, the airline recorded an operating loss before abnormal items and tax of K4 million in 2017, which is a significant improvement compared to the K34.84 million operating loss in 2016.
The loss including abnormal items before tax amounted to K11.95 million
in 2017 (K73.53 million in 2016).
Woo commented “While the operating loss represented an improvement over 2016, we were aiming to make profits in 2017, but the soft PNG economy, weak global resource prices, foreign exchange difficulties and fuel prices all worked against us.”
Highlights for the airline for the year included winning the contract to service all of Newcrest’s aviation requirements in PNG, and adding two additional brand new ATR 72-600 aircraft to its fleet, bringing the ATR fleet to seven.
The airline now has the youngest fleet in PNG.
Additionally, the airline opened airport lounges at Lae and Mt Hagen, and completed conversion of one of its Dash 8 aircraft to a full freighter configuration, able to carry up to four tonnes of freight.
Woo said “We are confident about the future for PNG Air.
"The economy is expected to grow and there should be more investments in the resource sectors.
"PNG Air has the right aircraft and people to provide the aviation services that will require, putting us is in a strong position to benefit  as growth occurs.”
PNG Air Ltd operates ATR 72-600 and Dash 8 aircraft to 25 ports throughout PNG, with 410 flights each week carrying over 450,000 passengers each year.

PNG earthquake response logistics situation update (14 March 2018)
March 14, 2018



● The Government of Papua New Guinea (GoPNG) through the Emergency Controllers Office, has established Forward operating bases as well as Logistics Bases, with privately donated services from commercial operators and international donors in Mt. Hagen and Moro. There are Emergency Operations Centres in Mendi and Tari from the National Disaster Centre.

● The above have been established to serve the worst-hit 7 Local Level Governments (LLG) in Hela and Southern Highlands provinces, namely: North Koroba, South Koroba, Yahapuga Rural, Koma rural, Hulia Rural, Nipa Rural and Lake Kutubu Rural.

● Wide-spread damage to infrastructure, including airfields, bridges and access roads, and further landslides caused by recent heavy rains, have been hampering access to affected communities.

● GoPNG has cleared the main Highlands Highway connecting Western Highlands, Southern Highlands, and Hela. However, several roads linking to the Highway remain impassable.

● Fixed and rotary wings assets by the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces (ADF and NZDF) - made available to support the immediate emergency response phase - are being phased out CH 47 on Friday 16 March and C130 on Monday 19 March, 2018.

● A system to request and coordinate the tasking of military and private sector assets has been put in place by the logistics coordination team (further information in the sections below).


● The NZDF C-130 which was based in POM to support the initial relief efforts, completed operations on 14 March 2017. The ADF C-130 - also based in POM for rotations to Mt Hagen and Moro will complete its last task on 19 March. The C-130 is currently fully tasked until 17 March. Three ADF CH47 Chinook helicopter will also complete their tasking on 16 March.

● Oilsearch and ExxonMobil have three Bell 212 helicopters available for loading from Moro.

● MAF has two Twin Otters and three Cessna Caravans for use with some limited cost recovery.

● The phasing out of foreign military assets will increase current gaps in reaching hard-to-reach and remote communities living in locations primarily accessible via helicopter. Alternative / commercial transport options and resourcing are being looked into to address this gap.

*Click this link for a PDF

UNICEF Australia launches appeal to help 125,000 Papua New Guinea children urgently needing assistance following earthquakes
March 15, 2018

UNICEF Australia is appealing to the public to help fund its relief effort for the children of Papua New Guinea affected by February’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake - and more than 100 quakes and tremors.
270,000 people, including 125,000 children, require urgent humanitarian assistance in areas where homes, subsistence farming and basic infrastructure including telecommunications, roads, hospitals and schools were destroyed.
The four provinces affected are in the rugged, mountainous area of PNG called the Highlands Region.
“Children are in a constant state of fear and exhaustion.
"Thousands of survivors are crowded into inadequate shelters where some relief is being distributed.
"But children are still extremely traumatised and hungry and face the risk of disease, malnutrition and lack of protection – and are of course out of school,” said Karen Allen, UNICEF PNG Country Representative.
In the hospitals and clinics still open, people have been admitted with trauma injuries, including crushed bones.
 One woman admitted to Mt Hagen Hospital said she had lost her husband and seven of her children.
One boy, receiving treatment after being hit in the head by falling rocks, says everyone in his village has lost their homes and food gardens. Eleven of his neighbours died.
“Tens of thousands of children in the Papua New Guinea Highlands desperately need our support and protection.
"We need to provide space spaces for children who lost the safety of their homes and schools when these collapsed around them,” said Tony Stuart, CEO of UNICEF Australia who just returned from meeting affected families in Mt Hagen.
Donations received by UNICEF Australia will directly support children affected by the earthquakes in the Southern Highlands and Hela provinces, to help them access ‘Child Friendly Spaces’.
These are spaces where children are protected from abuse and violence, and where they can receive psychosocial support and counselling.
UNICEF is also working closely with partners and the Papua New Guinea Government to deliver hygiene kits, basic sanitation and delivery of vaccines for children and women.
 Funding is needed to restore damaged ‘cold chain’ facilities to properly store vaccines and ensure that devices are in place for hypothermia and neonatal resuscitation.
About half of children under-five in Papua New Guinea are chronically malnourished; the highest rate in the Pacific and fourth worst in the world.
 A high proportion are not fully vaccinated.
The situation is likely to get worse with the ongoing emergency so UNICEF has prioritised ready-to-use therapeutic food and micronutrients for children, and vaccinations.



UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit

For more information, please contact:

Charlotte Glennie, UNICEF Australia, +61 420 407 886,

Andreas Wuestenberg, Emergency Specialist, UNICEF East Asia & Pacific,

Chinese Government provides humanitarian emergency assistance to Papua New Guinea

Chinese Ministry of Commerce

Since February 26, 2018, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and several aftershocks struck central Papua New Guinea, which was the largest earthquake since 1922.
By March 7, the earthquake has caused at least 122 deaths and over one hundred million yuan losses, and many buildings have been destroyed.
To show the Chinese government’s friendship and support for the government and people of Papua New Guinea as well as the international humanitarian spirit, the government of China initiated the emergency humanitarian assistance mechanism and decided to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to help Papua New Guinea deal with this disaster and post-disaster reconstruction. 

Further New Zealand support for Papua New Guinea earthquake
March 16, 2018

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced a further $3 million (K6.96 million) package of support following the February 26 earthquake in Papua New Guinea.
New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters 

“The full extent of this disaster is only becoming clear now nearly three weeks later; there has been extensive damage to water and food sources, transport infrastructure and significant loss of life,” Mr Peters said.
New Zealand has been working with the Government of Papua New Guinea, Australia and other donors to provide humanitarian relief, transporting relief supplies from New Zealand to Papua New Guinea and from Port Moresby into the Highlands.
This latest funding will be used to meet ongoing needs on the ground and includes up to $1.5 million for New Zealand NGOs with local partners to deliver ongoing emergency relief and early recovery activities in the Highlands.
“The Highlands region of Papua New Guinea is a challenging environment and the response and subsequent recovery will take time. This additional support reflects this,” Mr Peters said.
This funding is in addition to an initial package of $500,000 and the deployment of a New Zealand Defence Force C-130 Hercules carrying emergency supplies to Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea: Highlands Earthquake Situation Report No. 2 (as of 14 March 2018)
March 14, 2018

This report (click to get PDF of full report) is produced by the National Disaster Centre, the Office of the Resident Coordinator and the United Nations Coordination and Assessment (UNDAC) Team in collaboration with humanitarian partners. It was issued by the Disaster Management Team Secretariat. It covers the period from 10 March to 14 March 2018. The next report will be issued on or around 16 March 2018.


According to initial estimates, over 544,000 people are affected across the five most affected provinces. Over 270,000 people require immediate humanitarian assistance.

Priority needs include medicine, tarpaulins and tents, blankets, food, and water.

The Government, private companies and humanitarian partners have focused initial relief efforts on communities in the worst-hit seven Local Level Government (LLGs) in Hela and Southern Highlands provinces.

Main roads linking Hela and Southern Highlands provinces have been cleared, but many communities can only be reached with air assets.

The Government has established Forward Operating Bases in Mt. Hagen and Moro, as well as Emergency Operations Centres in Mendi and Tari.

544,368 affected people

270,442 people in need of assistance

18,200 displaced in 26 informal care centres

7 LLGs prioritized for urgent assistance

Situation Overview

The National Disaster Centre (NDC) estimates that around 544,000 people have been affected in five provinces and that more than 270,000 people are in immediate need of assistance. According to the Government, the death toll has reached more than 100 people. Reports from provincial disaster offices confirm 37 deaths in Southern Highlands Province, mostly in the Mendi area due to landslides and collapsing walls, over 300 injured people. The Western Provincial Disaster Office has confirmed 13 people killed, three injured and another three missing. Many reports of casualties across the affected provinces remain to be confirmed. The full impact is likely to remain unclear as many areas remain difficult to reach.

Based on preliminary estimates, earthquake intensity mapping and assessment data, the Government has prioritized:

37,689 people most severely affected and in need of immediate assistance in 7 LLGs1 in Hela and Southern Highlands provinces;

232,753 people affected and needing assistance in Hela and Southern Highlands and some areas in Western Province; and

273,926 people affected covering remaining areas in Hela, Southern Highlands, and many communities in Western and Enga provinces.

Many locals are traumatized and afraid of returning to their homes, and staying in informal care centres or with family or community members. Displacement tracking has been rolled out in the 7 most affected LLGs to assist in identifying the needs of the displaced communities. Currently, households are living in clans within the care centres (health facility, schools, churches and host communities). While estimates are difficult given the nomadic nature of the population and the fluctuations between night and day populations in the care centres, approximately 18,200 people are displaced and staying in informal care centres, with thousands more staying with families and host communities. Data collected from Komo-Magarima District’s, Hides 4 in Komo LLG, Timu and Lau in Hulia Beneria LLG show that there is an estimated total of 7,000 displaced persons with the majority being women - Hides 4 (63%) and Timu (55%), and there are more males (54%) than females in Lau. Displaced communities and households have restricted movement and access to available services due to fear of their tribal enemies.

A number of health facilities have been damaged, some significantly, while many more remain inaccessible. According to the Hela Provincial Health Authority, there are 34 operational health facilities in Hela comprising Tari provincial hospital, 4 health centres and 29 sub-health centres. In Southern Highlands Province, the main referral hospital is functioning, but the operating theatre is not functioning as the anesthesia machine was damaged in the earthquake. In addition to health facility damage and destruction, many health workers have lost their homes, including on-site accommodation at the Mendi hospital and staff accommodation at most health centres in Hela Province. Across both provinces, water systems and cold chain in health facilities are damaged or destroyed, including tanks, pumps, power systems, and refrigeration systems for vaccines. Surveillance systems are not functional, leaving the population highly vulnerable to outbreak risks.

The principle water sources for people in the highlands before the earthquake had been surface water and rainwater collection systems. Many of the water sources have been affected and/or depleted by the earthquakes. Rainwater collection systems have been damaged or destroyed. With no access to safe and clean water, waterborne disease outbreaks, such as diarrhoea, already among the principal causes of under-5 mortality, are most likely to occur. This risk is further compounded by the destruction of sanitation facilities and unsafe hygiene practices. Open defecation in rural communities is widespread. The National Department of Health, supported by partners, are conducting water quality assessments of water sources in Southern Highlands Province and downstream locations in Gulf Province.

Partners are scaling up humanitarian relief efforts and are gaining access to more communities, although there are still unmet needs in many areas. The remoteness and access constraints create logistical challenges and while no major security incidents have been reported, many affected areas have a history of tribal conflict and volatility. To date, most of the main road linking Hela and Southern Highlands provinces have been cleared allowing vehicles carrying relief supplies to pass. Some roads remain blocked with ongoing construction work, but should be opened in the coming week. Due to the ongoing seismic activity and rain, contractors are assigned to station at certain points of the main roads to monitor and clear the roads to allow an uninterrupted flow of vehicles. Remote locations with no road access are still being reached by fixed and rotary wing assets.

Americares responds to Papua New Guinea earthquake

Stamford, Conn. – March 14, 2018 – An Americares emergency team is headed to Papua New Guinea where more than 270,000 people are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of a 7.5-magnitude earthquake.
The full extent of the damage is still unknown more than two weeks after the Feb 26 earthquake.
Aftershocks, landslides and blocked roads are hampering the relief efforts.
Local officials are reporting at least 125 people have died and tens of thousands have been forced from their homes.
Survivors desperately need medicine, tarps, blankets, food and water, according to the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team.
 Those displaced include traumatised survivors afraid to return home due to aftershocks.
“Our first priority is ensuring survivors have access to critical health services,” said Americares vice-president of emergency programmes Kate Dischino.
 “Once we have a team on the ground we will have a better understanding of the situation and the most urgent needs.”
Americares, a health-focused relief and development organisation, is prepared to deliver medicine and relief supplies and support the restoration of health services for survivors.
Emergency response experts from Americares offices in the United States and the Philippines will deploy this week.
Americares helps communities prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters, increase access to medicine and medical supplies, improve and expand clinical services, prevent disease and promote good health.
 Its emergency response team responds to an average of 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year from earthquakes and cyclones to disease outbreaks and civil conflict.