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Australia Increases Aid to Papua New Guinea for Landslide Recovery and Enhanced Security Measures

Photo : AP

Australia has pledged an additional 2 million Australian dollars ($1.3 million) to aid Papua New Guinea in its reconstruction efforts following a devastating landslide in Enga province last month. The disaster, which struck the mountainous interior, reportedly claimed the lives of around 670 villagers and displaced over 1,650 survivors. The Papua New Guinea government believes more than 2,000 people were buried under debris when the landslide engulfed the settlement of Yambali overnight.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong announced the increased assistance during a visit to the landslide site alongside Papua New Guinea's Defense Minister Billy Joseph and Enga Governor Peter Ipatas. Wong emphasized the critical need for road access to restore essential services, food supplies, and fuel distribution along the Highlands Highway, a vital transport artery for the region.

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In addition to restoring connectivity, the aid package includes support for local healthcare services and the distribution of over 1,000 learning packs for children affected by the disaster. Australia had initially provided 2.5 million Australian dollars in emergency aid immediately after the landslide, which included emergency supplies, humanitarian support, and technical expertise.

The visit coincided with a ministerial forum in Papua New Guinea, underscoring the bilateral relationship's significance between Australia and South Pacific island nations. Discussions also focused on enhancing Papua New Guinea's internal security through a comprehensive aid package aimed at managing weapons and combating financial crime. This initiative forms part of Australia's broader strategy to counteract increasing Chinese influence in the region.

“A safe and secure Papua New Guinea is good for Papua New Guinea, it’s good for Australia and it’s good for the region,” Minister Wong affirmed during a media appearance, highlighting Australia's commitment to fostering stability and cooperation with its closest neighbor.

Recent months have seen Papua New Guinea grappling with internal security challenges, including deadly riots in its major cities and violent tribal conflicts. The aid and security support from Australia aim to strengthen Papua New Guinea's governance and law enforcement capacities, ensuring long-term stability and prosperity for the nation of nearly 10 million people.

June 20, 2024 2:27 p.m. 484

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