Papua New Guinea: Thousands receive humanitarian assistance in the Highlands region

More than 170 families in the villages of Piki, Lumbi and Tutam in Imbonggu district of the Southern Highlands province of Papua New Guinea (PNG) were provided with essential items distributed by the PNG Red Cross Society (PNGRCS) and the ICRC on 29 September.

Earlier, in July, 200 houses had allegedly been destroyed during a police raid, the affected families losing not only their homes and belongings, but also their basic livelihood items.

The joint operation by the PNGRCS and the ICRC delivered essential items such as blankets, water containers, cooking utensils and tarpaulins to around 1,000 people, helping them to meet their basic needs and to rebuild their homes.

Village chief Piki said of the assistance provided: "The PNGRCS and the ICRC were the first and so far only ones to come to our aid."

PNG Red Cross volunteers and the ICRC representative during a joint distribution of humanitarian items to a community in the villages of Lumbi, Piki and Tutam in the Southern Highlands province of PNG on 29 September 2014. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC

Meeting basic needs

On 1 October the ICRC and the PNGRCS, distributed relief items to the village of Hofafina, in Okapa District, where a community had been displaced by tribal fighting. Basic humanitarian items such as blankets, drinking water and tarpaulins were given to 66 families.

"The people, including women and children, would like to express their gratitude and appreciation for this donation," said Isaac Ariba, village court chairman in Okapa District.

In response, PNGRCS volunteer Salome Dukuno said: "We are pleased that together with the ICRC we delivered these much-needed items."

"This assistance will certainly make it possible for the displaced community to meet their most basic needs, such as drinking water and shelter," added ICRC representative Philippe Frison.

In addition, the ICRC distributed relief items to eight families in Kunu, Andari, after their homes were completely destroyed during an alleged police raid on 14 October. The items included kitchen sets, shelter tool kits, tarpaulins, mosquito nets and blankets.

Some of the families who received relief items from the ICRC on 1 October 2014, after they were displaced to Hofafina village, Okapa District, in Highlands Province of PNG. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC

Protecting victims of sexual violence

As part of its humanitarian mandate the ICRC protects and assists victims of armed tribal violence. Sexual violence is used during tribal fighting in Southern Highlands Province, mainly against women and girls.

Family Support Centres have been established in some provincial and district hospitals, providing a 'one-stop shop' for coordinated medical, paralegal, psychosocial, case management support and referral services. While such facilities exists in Mount Hagen and Mendi, access for women in rural areas remains difficult and costly.

To assist victims of sexual violence, the ICRC donated medical and office supplies – including a medicine cabinet, a laptop computer, printers, bedding material, filing cabinets and bookshelves – worth some 24,000 Kinas to the Family Support Centre at Mendi Hospital.

The ICRC is a neutral and impartial organization that protects and assists the victims of conflict or other situations of violence. The ICRC mission in PNG opened in 2007 and is based in Port Moresby, with offices in Mount Hagen and Bougainville. It is part of the ICRC's regional delegation in the Pacific, based in Suva, Fiji.

For further information, please contact:
Port Moresby: Omarsharif Ghyasy, tel. +675 708 80 624