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Papua New Guinea: Essential aid for 2,000 people affected by violence

24-01-2014 News Release 14/13

Port Moresby (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society today began distributing household materials, construction tools and hygiene items to 2,000 people displaced by clan fighting in Sugu Valley, Kagua Erave District, Southern Highlands Province.

Recent inter-communal violence in the Kagua-Erave area has left at least 40 people dead and 30 wounded.

The aid distributed today will help ensure the displaced families are able to meet their basic needs. "Our people have been desperate for assistance," said Justin Mapi, a leader of one of the displaced clans. "This is the only help we have received since the fighting began. We have lost everything."

Following an outbreak of violence between the Wambea and Kombia clans in late 2013, the ICRC donated medical supplies to Kagua Health Centre and Sumbura Aid Post, as well as directly to the clans, to help treat the wounded. The ICRC also took one woman wounded in a grenade attack to Mount Hagen Provincial Hospital.

"We are particularly concerned about access to health-care facilities for people injured in clan fighting across the Highlands," said Gauthier Lefèvre, head of the ICRC’s mission in Papua New Guinea. "Many wounded people are afraid to travel to health centres for fear of attack by enemy fighters. A number of health centres in the area have been destroyed or abandoned after years of fighting, and appropriate care is often only available in provincial capitals far removed from the site of clashes."

The ICRC has been working in Kagua Erave District in partnership with the Papua New Guinea Red Cross since 2011, helping communities affected by clan fighting. In November 2013, the ICRC distributed construction and gardening tools to 749 families from the Apopa and Pawayamo clans to help them return to their lands after making peace. It held three first-aid training courses for communities and local police in affected areas throughout 2013. In neighbouring Uma village, the ICRC is helping build a health post to serve the community of Aiya LLG, which has been without any treatment facility since 2005.

The ICRC mission in Papua New Guinea has been operating since 2007. It focuses on promoting knowledge of, and respect for, international humanitarian law and international human rights law among the national authorities and the disciplined forces (Defence Force, Royal Constabulary and Correctional Service), and supporting the activities of the national Red Cross society. The organization also conducts visits to detainees to monitor treatment and conditions, and supports the detaining authorities to improve living conditions. In the Highlands region, the ICRC has been providing assistance and protection to communities affected by inter-communal violence since 2010.

For further information, please contact:
Ashot Astabatsyan, ICRC Port Moresby, tel: +67 570 880 624
Helen Amnol, ICRC Port Moresby, tel: +67 571 927 175
Pauline Ross, Papua New Guinea Red Cross Western Highland branch coordinator, tel: +67 554 211 11