The 2004 major volcanic eruption of the active Manam Volcano caused widespread damage and losses to property and entire villages. The scale and magnitude of that eruption plus subsequent ones caused human habitation and livelihood on Manam very high risk for human habitation.
The Disaster Relief operations temporarily placed the affected people at the Care Centres at Mangem, Asuramba and Potsdam plantations. Today, the Care Centres hold the 25,000 Internally Displaced People (IDP) of about 5,000 families.
The IDP communities at these Care Centres have been exposed to and are experiencing extremely adverse, strenuous and dangerous humanitarian circumstances including local feuds with host communities resulting in numerous fatalities. Threats of violence and consistent fighting prolongs the tensions between the parties hence the increased vulnerability of the IDP communities. It will now be the 15th year going into 2019 with situation worsening particularly for communities at the Mangem and Asuramba Care Centres.
Hardships at the Care Centres includes:
- Chronic food shortage
- Population explosion
- No more land to expand and grow crops
- No shelter – very difficult to obtain building materials
- No safe drinking water
- Social problems
- No income earning opportunities
- Constant deaths
- No or inadequate health care
- Ethnic clashes with host communities and deaths over land and food. Women and children suffer the most.
Many, who can’t bear the hardships have taken the risk to return to the island. But the land on the island is not arable like before. It’s all rocks. The Chairman after his visit in December 2018 declared the island uninhabitable.
Due to inconsistencies caused by changes in policies, management and governments, and political differences, the Manam humanitarian disaster has not been adequately addressed for 15 years. Political differences, which was really for personal gain, delayed the passing of the Manam Resettlement Bill until 2016.
The National Task Force to progress permanent resettlement convened its last meeting in July 2010 according to records since establishment. A Care Take Officer attached with Bogia District has no resources to keep up with the people’s expectations on the ground and continue with the much needed organization of this immense task. As a result the IDP communities and the impacted local villages have lost confidence in the overall administration between the national and the provincial institutions. This needs to be restored as a matter of urgency to begin working with the people.
In 2012, the NEC approved K15 million funding of K 3 million per year over five (5) years for the resettlement of the IDPs. Funds were only provided for years 2013 and 2014, and none thereafter.
It is clearly evident the situation on the ground is one of desperation with the quality of life deteriorating and the morale of affected people now on its lowest ebb nearing revolts in Care Centres as demonstrated in recent violence resulting in more deaths. This is definitely not the state of affairs any such situation should reduce to. There is now a sense of urgency to stabilize the current situation to be able to progress the very important long term resettlement program proposals.
A number of exercises have been conducted since including a patrol by the Provincial Administrator’s team followed by an assessment team from the Economic Sector into the proposed sites for relocation. A set of recommendations were made to the Madang Provincial Administration for consideration.
Madang Provincial Administration’s Project Management Unit had taken a lot of initiative and hard work to research, gather information, collate data, and present a lot of important information including activity plans for both the immediate to short term as well as the long term activities in the overall project.
The Board will consider and adopt some of the work already done by Madang Provincial Administration’s Project Managemetn Unit (PMU) as a way forward to find solutions.