What are the needs?
Due its geographical location, Papua New Guinea is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Situated on a segment of the Pacific “Ring of Fire” the country is on the edges of tectonic plates, a source of frequent earthquakes, volcano eruptions and, at times, tsunamis. Localised outbreaks of communal diseases, such as malaria and cholera, are common partly due to poor infrastructure and accessibility. The situation is often aggravated by storms and consequent floods and landslides, leading to the destruction of homes and livelihoods. Such disasters leave inhabitants in urgent need of temporary shelter, clean water and sanitation, primary health care, and other non-food items.
Rape and intimate-partner violence is widespread whereas integrated medical and psychosocial care and treatment for victims and their families is only in place in a few locations, leaving most people in dire need for assistance.
Finally, insecurity and excessive high costs of goods and transport are a major challenge for international humanitarian aid actors. Local capacity to respond to disasters is weak due to the poor infrastructure and the mountainous terrain.
How are we helping?
The European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) has funded humanitarian projects in Papua New Guinea since 1994.
In 2013, the European Commission identified the widespread sexual and family violence in the country as a "forgotten crisis" and has committed €1.5 million for assistance to existing protection and care systems for Sexual- and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) victims for the period 2013-2014. EU funds will not only be used to provide emergency first aid and psychological counselling but also to support safe haven accommodation and counselling for victims of violence and their families. Perpetrators of violence, who often can be part of the family of the victim, will also receive psychological counselling.
Incidents of sexual and family violence can increase in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters. EU-funded projects therefore also include measures to try and mitigate outbursts of such forms of violence during disasters.
Another focus of EU assistance to Papua New Guinea are projects aiming to better prepare local communities to natural disasters by building their resilience. Since 2009, the EU has been funding disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness projects (under the DIPECHO Programme), as part of a regional programme in the Pacific. The aim of the projects has been to reduce risks posed by natural hazards and to improve resilience among the most vulnerable populations. Between 2011 and 2014, DIPECHO funding in Papua New Guinea comprised some €1.4 million. Projects have focused on the Rai coast, the Eastern Highland region, Tewai-Siassi, Okapa, Nawaeb and Finschafen areas which are particularly vulnerable to disasters.