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IFRC releases emergency funds to help people affected by Papua New Guinea earthquake

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released 209,000 Swiss Francs (US$221, 000) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support the needs of 2,000 people affected by the 7.5 magnitude earthquake, which struck Papua New Guinea on 25 February 2018.

The earthquake damaged buildings including schools and hospitals, and caused landslides that blocked roads, cutting communication lines and access to affected people.

“Our first challenge for humanitarian assistance is assessing people’s needs,” explains Udaya Regmi, the IFRC head of country office in Papua New Guinea. “The strong, shallow earthquake damaged or destroyed communication networks and infrastructure, so there is limited information on how people were affected and what they need.”

The emergency fund will also be used to support assessments and aerial surveillance to identify others in need, while providing an initial 2,000 people with first aid, water, sanitation and hygiene support, mosquito nets, materials for emergency shelters such as ropes and tarpaulins, as well as water containers. It will also cover psychosocial support.

The earthquake struck a remote, mountainous region, about 500 kilometers from the country’s capital, Port Moresby. While the region has no major urban centers, around 670,000 people live within 100 kilometers of the earthquake’s epicenter.

“The situation is risky for people in need as well as for staff and volunteers,” adds Udaya. “Aftershocks could continue, causing more injuries to people, further damaging buildings and infrastructure. We are working in close coordination with the Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society for early response activities and are working to get more clarity on the situation on the ground.”

With experience in disaster management, first aid and other humanitarian assistance, and pre-positioned emergency stocks, the Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society will deploy staff and volunteers from branches near the affected areas to help people in need. The emergency operation will also look at scaling up support activities as and when the need arises.

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