‘Displaced persons’ need support

Editorial

THE hopes of Manam Islanders living in care centres at Mangem (Sumkar) and Potsdam and Asuramba (Bogia) for resettlement may not eventuate.
The islanders have been living in these care centres for 15 years now.
Their island – Manam is a basaltic stratovolcano 7.5 miles (12 km) in Madang. Its first known eruption was in 1616. Since then Manam has erupted at least 30 times. The volcano has been very active in the 20th century with 23 eruptions. In November 2004, a major eruption forced the emergency evacuation of over 9,000 inhabitants of the island.
The state relocated the people to the mainland and resettled them at care centres. They still continue to live in the care centre, 15 years later.
Life at the care centres has not been easy for the families with most citing food shortage and ethnic clashes with the mainlanders forcing them to move back to the island.
This week, we have news that the Manam Restoration Authority is in red and cannot implement any restoration programme.
Chairman Ken Fairweather said the authority only received K2 million from the K20 million appropriated in the 2019 Budget and the fund has been exhausted.
The Manam Resettlement Authority Act was passed by Parliament in 2006.
A similar plight is also being faced by the 600-plus inhabitants from Kadovar Island in East Sepik displaced from the volcano eruption in January, 2017.
The displaced islanders are currently living at the care centre on the mainland and their future remains uncertain. Displacement for people from those islands appears to be protracted, with households living in temporary living situations for more than a year.
These populations are more vulnerable to development challenges as they have less access to basic services such as protection, which increases the risk of human trafficking and people smuggling. Women and girls are especially susceptible to abuse, from both within their communities and outside.
In PNG, internal displacement has also ignited conflicts.
A report by the International Organisation for Migration in collaboration with the Government in 2017 Profiling internally displaced persons in Papua New Guinea highlighted the urgent need for a call for a collaborative effort among state and non-state actors to ensure that those affected by displacement are quick to recover, return to their normal life, and no longer have displacement-related assistance or protection needs, and can enjoy their human rights without discrimination. Unfortunately this is not happening.
They now become statistics to the growing number of in-house refugees or as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who often live in protracted displacement with limited access to land.
An IDP is someone who is forced to flee his or her home but who remains within his or her country’s borders.
As of November 2014, at least 22,500 people were displaced in PNG as a result of conflict or natural hazard-related disasters.
Two thirds of internally displaced people have been displaced by natural hazards, the remainder by conflict.
In many areas, natural disasters, conflict, violence and development projects often coincide to create an environment conducive to displacement.
The majority of those displaced by conflict and disaster live in Madang and Morobe. For Madang, it’s the Manam Islanders at the care centres. In East Sepik, the Kadovar Islanders and we have IDPs also in Southern Highlands following the earthquakes last year. Some heads need to roll for the delay.
Lives of people are at stake – women and children have been made to suffer because leaders tasked to work together have their own interest.

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