Port Moresby, June 21, 2018 – United Nations (UN) staff returned to Mendi in Southern Highlands province to resume humanitarian relief activities which have been ongoing since February’s M7.5 earthquake which took place in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea.
The staff were warmly greeted with chants of ‘welkam back’ by communities including children, religious and local leaders. The UN relocated its personnel from Mendi following the outbreak of violence there on 14 June.
“We stopped at Ilo Elementary School, Yebi Primary School and Kalape Elementary School in Imbonggu District to see the progress on latrine and water storage installations, . . . .the three schools organised a celebration, welcoming (back) UN.
"Chants, songs, posters – big and small, speeches, all thanking and welcoming UN.
"Community leaders were there and also welcomed the UN team . . . saying people in Imbongu are peace loving.
" I was personally touched when the MC announced ‘mangi Mendi em kambek’” said Ali Ramly, UNICEF Team Leader.
“As we entered the town and approached the Diocese where we stay. . . . the reception was incredible – children ran up to us, nuns and priests and brothers were coming to approach us.”
UN Resident Coordinator, Gianluca Rampolla said： “UN is committed to serve the people of Papua New Guinea and support the communities affected by earthquake in addressing their immediate needs.
"Our immediate return is a testament to the commitment and dedication of our staff who are ready to work in the most difficult and challenging situations.
"The welcome that the communities have extended to our staff is a very clear indication of the value of our work.
"It is a proud moment for all of us.”
The UN Resident Coordinator accompanied by the UNICEF Representative and a World Bank delegation will be travelling to Mendi over the weekend.
Operating from its base in Mendi, the UN has been providing relief assistance to earthquake-impacted communities in Southern Highlands and Hela provinces.
These include providing emergency shelters and households items while also supporting the rehabilitating of facilities in schools and health centres; establishing temporary learning space for children and empowerment spaces for women; undertaking province-wide immunization campaigns, malnutrition screening and treatment while providing access to psychosocial support, sexual and reproductive health and family planning services.
The UN has also provided food assistance to remote communities in Southern Highlands, Hela and Western provinces experiencing severe food insecurity.
The UN continues to support the PNG Government with humanitarian and logistics coordination for the earthquake response.