UNICEF helps children and their families affected by Papua New Guinea earthquake and aftershocks

BANGKOK / SYDNEY 7th March 2018 - UNICEF is working to respond to the needs of those affected by earthquakes, measuring 6 to 7.5 on the Richter Scale and nearly 100 aftershocks, which sent four provinces in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea into a state of emergency last week.

Initial reports and aerial assessments reveal that 65 per cent of health facilities are closed and schools have been damaged to such an extent that authorities are considering cancelling the entire school year.

According to UN indicative estimates pending Government approval, of the 270,000 people who are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance, more than 133,000 children under the age of 18 are affected.

“UNICEF is working tirelessly to do whatever it takes to ensure the health and safety of children and families in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea,” said Karin Hulshof, UNICEF East Asia & Pacific Regional Director. “Ensuring those affected are safe and healthy with access to clean water, food and safe spaces is the number one priority.”

Working closely with the Government of Papua New Guinea, UNICEF, WHO and UN Women are focusing on treating children with severe acute malnutrition, restoring cold chain for vaccinations, and providing safe and learning spaces with water and hygiene facilities for children and women in the affected areas.

Access to the affected areas remains an enormous challenge with huge landslides reported and telecommunications down in many areas.

Following a request from the PNG Government, the Government of Australia has so far committed $200,000 worth of humanitarian supplies including tarpaulins and water containers. These are being transported by a RAAF C-130, which has made a number of flights into the affected areas. The C-130 also transported medical and humanitarian supplies from the PNG Government, UNICEF, the World Health Organisation, the UN Population Fund, PNG Red Cross and CARE.

UNICEF PNG has delivered therapeutic foods to combat malnutrition, along with Government vaccines, to Hela Province thanks to airlifting support from the Government of New Zealand.

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.au

For more information, please contact: 

Simon Nazer, Communications, UNICEF East Asia & Pacific, +66 618833557, snazer@unicef.org
Andreas Wuestenberg, Emergency Specialist, UNICEF East Asia & Pacific, awuestenberg@unicef.org
Charlotte Glennie, UNICEF Australia, +61 420 407 886, cglennie@unicef.org.au