CARE emergency teams in Papua New Guinea are today assessing the damage caused by last week’s powerful magnitude-7.5 earthquake, and have begun distributing relief supplies.
Australian aid worker Anna Bryan, CARE’s Program Director in PNG, said access to affected areas remained a huge challenge.
“Many of the places hardest hit are still only accessible by helicopter. Landslides have cut off road access and telecommunications are still down in many areas,” Ms Bryan said.
“This area is extremely remote and it’s going to be extraordinarily difficult to get relief supplies to communities in need.”
Working with local authorities and community partners, as well as the Australian Defence Force, CARE has begun distributing water containers and purification tablets, as well as soap, detergent and other hygiene items.
“We know water sources have been contaminated and there’s a high risk of diseases outbreaks,” Ms Bryan said.
“We’re conducting assessments of people’s immediate needs so we can make sure aid gets where it’s needed most.
“We know food gardens have been wiped out, which is devastating for families in this region who are primarily subsistence farmers.”
Close to half a million people are estimated to have been affected by the disaster. While official figures are yet to be confirmed, it is believed more than 100 people were killed in the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks.
CARE Australia is an international humanitarian aid organisation, and has been working in PNG since 1989. Last year, CARE directly reached more than 14 million people through humanitarian response work. Donations to CARE’s Emergency Response Fund can be made at care.org.au/pngearthquake
To arrange interviews with staff in PNG or Australia, please contact CARE Australia. Images are available here.