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Emergency Update

Papua New Guinea Landslide

At 3 am on Friday, 24 May, a devastating landslide struck Enga Province, a remote part of Papua New Guinea. At a time when families were asleep, the landslide caused major devastation. Over 3,300 children have been affected and many people missing are yet to be located as search and rescue efforts are underway. The number of casualties is expected to increase as rescue efforts continue. At least 150 structures, including homes, a school and small businesses, were completely destroyed, with many more under threat from the unstable landslide. 

Among other critical support, UNICEF is distributing emergency supplies, including clean water, sanitation tools, and hygiene items, to help families maintain health and dignity during the emergency.

We’re in Papua New Guinea, giving every child a fair chance to thrive throughout childhood.   

Did you know that Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse countries, with more than 850 indigenous languages? Rich in culture and tradition, the people of PNG associate in tribal and language groups, and 80 per cent of the nation’s population live in rural areas. 

Despite its wonderful diversity, PNG faces many challenges. Located in one of the most hazard-prone regions in the world, PNG is extremely vulnerable to climate change and more than half of all children under five are malnourished. Children and their families have difficulty accessing basic public and social services, and there are elevated levels of violence between tribal communities and within families. Additionally, the total number of years of schooling a child of school-entry age can expect to receive is less than five years. 

We’re in PNG, working with our partners on long-term development programs to address the many complex challenges faced by children and their families. We’re focusing on investing in the early years, keeping mums and their babies healthy, protecting children from harm and unleashing the potential of PNG’s young people so that children can thrive. 

51%

of children in Papua New Guinea are stunted, which is when a child does not receive enough food and nutrients.

1 in 50

babies in Papua New Guinea die within the first month of life.

Children learn in a UNICEF-supported early learning centre in Morobe Province of Papua New Guinea.© UNICEF Australia/2023/Moran

Papua New Guinea’s many challenges

The children of PNG face many challenges. In education, they have limited early learning opportunities, and a quarter of children aged 6 to 18 are still out of school, of those who are enrolled in primary and secondary school, many do not perform at their grade level. The health system is fragile with children dying of preventable diseases, while malnutrition and lack of access to safe water are significant underlying factors for illness and deaths in children under five. Plus, violence is a daily reality for most children, making them feel unsafe in their homes and communities.  

How we’re protecting the rights of children in Papua New Guinea  

Over the years, we have successfully piloted new approaches to accelerate positive change for children and their families. Our work in PNG is only possible thanks to the generous support of the Australian public and the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).  

13,522

people benefited from improved quality of, and access to, maternal, newborn and child health services between 2021 and 2023.

28,442

children benefited from interventions aimed at reducing stunting and other forms of malnutrition between 2021 and 2023.

11,000

parents participated in positive parenting sessions between 2021 and 2023.

A mother and her son visit a UNICEF-supported health care centre.© UNICEF Australia/2023/Moran

Treating malnutrition in remote villages

It takes 41-year-old Noris a whole day to walk to the nearest health clinic with her six-month-old baby, Jeremaiah—a journey she rarely makes because of the distance and weather.  

"I gave birth in my home with women in the village helping me. The delivery wasn't long or complicated, so I didn't go and get healthcare after the birth; my son came here for the first time today," Noris explains. 

Although Noris's village has a health clinic, there is no Village Health Assistant or Health Care Worker to help look after them, leaving the mothers without the information they need for their maternal and newborn healthcare. 

"I used to stay in my village because my village is far, but I heard UNICEF is coming, so I decided to walk to get some information. I didn't know my child has severe acute malnutrition (SAM), I just found out. I am happy that my child is getting help, and I will walk that distance more times to help my child."

UNICEF Australia is working alongside our partners in Papua New Guinea to deliver a Convergence program which works across a range of early childhood and adolescent development sectors to provide holistic support for children and adolescents in Morobe Province and Madang Province. 

Early learning centre in Papua New Guinea

In Papua New Guinea, we're making a difference in:


Help the children of Papua New Guinea

By donating today, you can help us break the cycle of inequality and give each child a fair chance to thrive.

PNG Children
© UNICEF Australia/2023/Moran