News release

Papua New Guinea: ICRC agreement will ensure support for victims of violence

Port Moresby– The government of Papua New Guinea has signed an agreement with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that will enable the humanitarian organisation to considerably expand its support for victims of armed violence in the country.

"This is an important day for the most vulnerable people of Papua New Guinea," said Rimbink Pato, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, at the signing ceremony on 9 February. "The ICRC has been working in our country for many years and has significantly contributed to our national development. Its role in providing health care and other humanitarian aid is acknowledged by one and all. It is time to give it full government backing."

Since 2011, the ICRC has distributed basic relief supplies to 22,000 displaced people in the country, supported nine health posts and trained 239 remote community members in first aid. It has carried out 65 visits to places of detention under the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, Correctional Service and Immigration and Citizenship Services Authority.

In the Highlands, the organisation is working to promote humanitarian values in areas stricken by tribal warfare. It is also working with the authorities to clarify the fate and whereabouts of missing persons from the Bougainville Crisis. In addition, it has provided financial and technical support for the staff and activities of the Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society.

By facilitating administrative procedures, the headquarters agreement signed on 9 February 2016 will enable the ICRC to provide more assistance to people displaced or otherwise affected by tribal fighting. For example, the organisation is building a new health post in Southern Highlands Province, launching activities in Enga and Hela Provinces, and developing ways of reducing sexual violence in tribal fights.

"Working in remote, violence-prone areas is challenging," said Gauthier Lefèvre, head of the ICRC mission in Port Moresby. "We appreciate this clear demonstration of support from the government, which includes the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Transport, Justice and Attorney General, Internal Revenue Commission, National Airports Corporation, National Information and Communication Technology Authority and Bank of PNG. We are committed to increasing the services we provide to the people of Papua New Guinea by reinforcing our work, expanding our geographical coverage and hiring new staff."

The government has cooperated with the ICRC ever since the organisation first opened an office in Port Moresby in 2007. The new agreement protects the ICRC's confidentiality, which is essential to address sensitive issues and maintain access to detainees, fighters, community leaders and victims of the armed violence. "We recognise and value the ICRC's focus on confidential dialogue with all involved" said Minister Pato. "It must be protected and respected."

The ICRC has signed similar agreements with close to 100 countries around the world, and was granted observer status at the United Nations in 1990. Its mandate is derived from the Geneva Conventions of 1949, to which Papua New Guinea is party, and the Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

For further information, please contact:

Dan Waites, ICRC Port Moresby, tel: +675 708 80 624, Betty Oala, ICRC Port Moresby, tel +675 709 93 061
Neha Thakkar, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 3160 or visit our website: