Minister Tkatchenko expresses gratitude to US for Relief Support for affected communities in East Sepik  

Thursday 4 April 2024

Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Justin Tkatchenko, has expressed his gratitude to the United States, for its additional K3.45 million ($900,000 USD) assistance through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in humanitarian assistance for disaster relief in the East Sepik Province and the Highlands region.

“I thank and express heartfelt appreciation to the Government and the people of the United States for this much needed humanitarian assistance, in a time of great need for our people.

“While Papua New Guinea and US relations date back in our histories, recent and consistent government to government dialogue with the Marape-Rosso Government, including the recent signing of the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) has ensured closer consultation and this immediate response by the US,” Minister Tkatchenko said.

“I thank the US Embassy, Ambassador Ann Marie Yastishock and her team, USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and groups and individuals involved in disaster relief efforts for their commitment alongside our people on the ground, and the affected communities.”

Ambassador Yastishock in a statement said that the immediate humanitarian assistance will reduce suffering and save lives in communities affected by the earthquake and flooding by providing assistance that will be spent in the local economy to help individuals, and local business.

“The United States has a long-term commitment to help communities in Papua New Guinea build resilience to extreme weather and climate change.”

Minister Tkatchenko also extended his appreciation  to  the Minister for Defence and National Emergencies Hon. Dr Billy Joseph, for his efforts in the responses to the affected areas.

“I thank the hardworking Minister for Defence and Emergencies for his consistent efforts, and ensuring a collective and cooperative commitment especially from the foreign missions and our bilateral partners, non-government and government agencies.”

The US Embassy further said in the  statement, the assistance responds to the urgent needs of communities affected by the magnitude 6.9 earthquake that struck Momase Region’s, East Sepik Province on March 24, 2024, as well as ongoing flooding in East Sepik and across the highlands provinces.

The funding will provide disaster-affected populations with emergency shelter, humanitarian logistics support, protection, and water, sanitation, and hygiene.

The US Embassy also confirmed that USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance also dispatched disaster response experts to engage with humanitarian partners, donors, and the government to coordinate and support a response tailored to the needs of communities affected by the earthquake and floods.

The new funding will expand ongoing USAID-supported relief efforts beyond the East Sepik province and into other provinces in the Highlands affected by flooding and landslides.

USAID, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has already distributed over 300 shelter kits and 200 non-food item (NFI) kits to disaster-affected communities in East Sepik.

 The funding will support 1,500 households, by infusing cash into local markets to purchase shelter materials, NFI kits and WASH supplies for distribution to vulnerable households.

Supplies reached affected communities along the Sepik River on  Easter Monday (April 1), with support from PNGDF helicopter airlift.

The combined effects of a magnitude 6.9 earthquake and catastrophic flooding have displaced approximately 10,000 people, destroyed over 1,000 homes, and affected almost 400,000 people in East Sepik and the Highlands regions according to the IOM.

USAID partners with Papua New Guinea to support electrification, promote good governance, increase resilience to climate change, protect biodiversity, strengthen health systems, and prepare for and respond to disasters.

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