Caritas exposes continued pain for PNG disaster victims

Caritas Australia has highlighted a little-publicised disaster that occurred on Australia's doorstep one year ago this week, and is continuing to cause suffering for its victims.

A media release yesterday from the Catholic aid and development organisation says the volcanic eruption on Manam Island in Madang Province of Papua New Guinea forced the evacuation of close to 10,000 people. The emergency caused a humanitarian crisis, the long-term scale of which is rarely seen in the Pacific region.

But Caritas points out that the news did not make headlines in Australia, and in fact few media outlets picked up the story at all.

"While there were fortunately no deaths directly as a result of the displacement, the islanders were left without their homes, a food source, health and education facilities and ability to sustain their lives," it says. "The first eruption only affected part of the island's population. However, while the world's eyes were focused on the Asian tsunami disaster, a second eruption caused the evacuation of the remainder of the population."

The devastation was so great that most of these people will never be able to return to their homes.

Caritas says that in the 12 months since then, life for the Manam Islanders has not been easy.

"Although a small number of people have been able to return to their homes on the island, the majority are living in three camps along the Madang North Coast Road at Mangem, Asuramba and Potsdam, all in the Bogia District area. The Government of PNG has provided some assistance as have a small number of other donors, including Caritas Australia. The bulk of assistance has been delivered by the local Catholic Church."

Caritas aids victims of the forgotten disaster (Caritas Australia 24/10/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Australia

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25 Oct 2005