UN official: Women, girls at risk

Dirk Wagener

WOMEN and girls are particularly vulnerable, often lacking access to the resources and assets they need to cope with disasters, an official says.
United Nations resident coordinator in Papua New Guinea Dirk Wagener made this known as the world observes World Humanitarian Day today.
“Women and girls are at heightened risk of sexual violence and sometimes forced to resort to negative coping strategies such as dropping out of school to work or being forced into early marriage,” Wagener said.
He said people living in fragile circumstances felt the effects most severely.
“Pushed out of their homes, they become more vulnerable to disruptions in food production and supplies, diseases and malnutrition,” he said.
Wagener said the world faced a climate emergency.
“The climate crisis is right before our eyes – tens of thousands of Papua New Guineans, many living on atolls, islands and in coastal communities are already feeling the very real effects of climate change,” he said.
He said Carteret islanders in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville were among the world’s first people to undergo organised relocation due to rising sea levels.
“Between 2007 and 2011, just 10 families successfully relocated to Tinputz on the main island of Bougainville,” Wagener said.
“While there have been attempts since as early as the 1980s to relocate the islanders, most have not succeeded and there are more people than ever living in the atoll,” Wagener said.
“The islands and atolls in Milne Bay, Huon Bay, the Admiralty Islands and elsewhere are also rapidly shrinking as the sea level rises.”