Australia increases aid to Papua New Guinea

NEWCASTLE, Australia — Australia will provide a further two million Australian dollars ($1.3 million) to support reconstruction efforts in Papua New Guinea after last month’s deadly landslide, the government said Thursday.

The South Pacific island nation off Australia’s northern coast is still struggling with the aftermath of the disaster in Enga province in its mountainous interior, which the United Nations estimated killed 670 villagers and immediately displaced 1,650 survivors. Papua New Guinea’s government has told the United Nations it thinks more than 2,000 people were buried when the mountainside tumbled onto the settlement of Yambali as people slept.

“Road access is critical for essential services as well as food and fuel supply chains,” Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in a statement that coincided with a visit to the site of the landslide with Papua New Guinea’s Defense Minister Billy Joseph and Enga Gov. Peter Ipatas.

“The additional support of $2 million announced today is in response to PNG’s request to restore connectivity of the Highlands Highway – the transport artery of the region,” Wong added.

Wong said the aid would also support local health care services and the provision of more than 1,000 learning packs for children.

Australia’s initial assistance of $2.5 million provided emergency supplies, support for humanitarian partners and disaster responders and technical experts in the days after the landslide on May 24. / AP

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