16 December 2008 The United Nations is sending a disaster assessment team to Papua New Guinea after severe sea swells hit the northern shoreline, affecting up to 60,000 people, according to government estimates.
The possibility of water-borne disease is one of the major health concerns and timely and adequate water and sanitation assistance is required, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.
The swells destroyed houses, food and water supplies. Main needs identified by the government include water containers, tarpaulins, water purification tablets, food rations and insecticide-treated anti-malarial bed nets.
The surge, which damaged crops and led to the loss of gardening tools, hit eight provinces and left some 34,000 people in need of immediate aid, according to the national Red Cross.
The six-member UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team will arrive in Port Moresby, the capital, tomorrow to reinforce relief efforts already undertaken by the UN country team.
The proportion of displaced people in the affected regions shows the devastating impact of the disaster, with 46 per cent of the total population of some 50,000 in the remote and relatively low-lying Manus islands province uprooted, OCHA reported. The Government is urging over 6,000 people in Manus to consider permanent relocation to the mainland.
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