Environment, health & human rights Feed

The festering wounds of Manus and Nauru

Giorgio Licini
Fr Giorgio Licini - "It is outrageous what is being done to refugees in Manus, Port Moresby and Nauru"


PORT MORESBY – Yesterday was World Migrant and Refugee Day and a message from Pope Francis to mark the day was particularly meaningful for our part of the world.

The words of the Pope help uncover a sense of truth about what has been going on for the past six years in Nauru and Manus.

Continue reading "The festering wounds of Manus and Nauru" »

Time for action on family planning is now

Dr David Ayres - "There is an obvious need to improve access to family planning methods in PNG"

Country Director, Marie Stopes PNG

PORT MORESBY - Today is World Contraception Day. Launched in 2007, it seeks to improve awareness of contraception and to enable young people of child-bearing age to make informed choices about fertility choices and sexual and reproductive health.

The use of contraception in Papua New Guinea remains very low.  The most recent ‘Papua New Guinea Demographic and Health Survey 2016-18 Key Indicators Report’ painted an alarming picture of family planning.

Despite 85% of PNG’s population living in rural areas, only 35% of contraceptive users live in rural areas, and lesser educated and poorer women are much less likely to use contraception.

Continue reading "Time for action on family planning is now" »

‘We’re an important voice,’ Parkop tells climate summit

Powes Parkop has initiated a Million Trees campaign as part of his program to promote resistance to climate change in Port Moresby and PNG


NEW YORK – Governor Powes Parkop will today address a United Nations climate action summit which is seeking to mobilise collaboration and investment to accelerate and support climate action to combat global climate change.

The boss of Papua New Guinea's capital will share his experience from Port Moresby and emphasise the serious problems issues that PNG and small island developing nations in the Pacific and elsewhere face with climate change.

Continue reading "‘We’re an important voice,’ Parkop tells climate summit" »

The great twin threats of climate & corruption

| Transparency International

BERLIN - The climate crisis, like corruption, is a matter of life or death.

The evidence is hard and clear. The last five years are the hottest ever recorded in the 139 years that the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has tracked global heat.

Continue reading "The great twin threats of climate & corruption" »

Malaysian companies exploit oil palm workers

Children on oil palm estate
Children on an oil palm estate - life in camps with no schools and their birthright disappearing

NEWS DESK | Sarawak Report | Edited extract

SARAWAK, MALAYSIA - Dayak landowners of Sarawak will take no pleasure, but experience little surprise, in hearing how the people of Papua New Guinea have been ill-treated by logging and oil palm plantation conglomerates based in East Malaysia.

These are companies who first robbed Sarawakians of their land rights before extending operations into virtually all the remaining timber reserves on the planet.

Continue reading "Malaysian companies exploit oil palm workers" »

Something wrong when PNG’s wealth benefits others


CARDIFF, WALES - I’m a simple person who lived in Papua New Guinea for over 30 years and who feels there is something very wrong with the political system when a very large island nation with a small population and blessed with a super abundance of resources has experts talking about its fragile state.

Indeed why has the former Australian territory of PNG with such an abundance of wealth has depended for over 44 years since independence on Australia for many billions of dollars in grants and other forms of aid.

I would love someone to research how many massive billions have been earned by the various extractive companies over those 44 years plus the billions earned in cash crops such as coffee, cocoa, copra, oil palm in addition to the many billions transferred from tropical logs and the wealth derived from PNG’s huge marine zone fisheries.

Continue reading "Something wrong when PNG’s wealth benefits others" »

Oro Province moves to protect the world's biggest butterfly

Queen Alexandra Birdwing Butterfly
Leaders in Oro Province are taking steps to protect the endangered Queen Alexandra Birdwing butterfly

NEWS DESK | NBC News / PNG Today

PORT MORESBY - Concern has been raised in Papua New Guinea and overseas about the disappearance of the Queen Alexandra Birdwing butterfly species in Oro Province.

The Birdwing is the world's largest butterfly and it is found only in PNG and can be found only on the Managalas plateau in Oro.

A proposal presented to the Ijivitari District Development Authority by local MP Richard Masere said there are plans to establish a foundation to protect the endangered butterfly.

"I want to be the patron of this foundation,” Masere said.

“To kick start the foundation's work I'm putting K10,000 to campaign to save the Queen Alexandra butterfly.

Continue reading "Oro Province moves to protect the world's biggest butterfly" »

The sadness of Basamuk: Ignorance & greed begat destruction

Basamuk Bay
Basamuk Bay, the once pristine water red from waste

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE - Ten years ago, a small group of Papua New Guineans made a decision to fight the construction of a multibillion kina Chinese-owned nickel mine in the Madang province.

The reasons were simple: land was going to be taken away from its traditional custodians in Kurumbukari in the Usino-Bundi electorate; and the sea, a vital resource for the people's survival, was going to be polluted by the dumping of tailings into Basamuk Bay.

I cannot mention the names of those who were strongly opposed to this because I do not have their permission. But they remained dedicated and were determined to stop the destruction from happening years before I got involved in the campaign.

It is one part of my life I never regretted.

Continue reading "The sadness of Basamuk: Ignorance & greed begat destruction" »

Progress may be inevitable but human dignity should prevail

Irai and family
Francis Irai and his family stand forlornly before their makeshift home at 9 Mile in Port Moresby located between a rock ledge and a busy road


PORT MORESBY - The fate of about 100 families residing in 64 units of National Housing Commission flats at Gordon in Port Moresby hangs in precarious balance as they face eviction from their homes of 20-30 years by a private property developer.

The matter is the subject of a bitter and protracted legal battle that has taken up the better part of the last 12 years and is still awaiting a final court decision.

But the political leadership of the National Capital District (NCD) must be lauded, and loudly, for standing up for the families who are agitated and distressed about the future.

Governor Powes Parkop and the MPs of Moresby South and North-East have made considerable efforts to address the adverse effects of physical developments on affected communities in and around the city.

Continue reading "Progress may be inevitable but human dignity should prevail" »

On Australian mission, Fr Giorgio says refugee crisis worsening

Fr Giorgio Licini
Fr Giorgio Licini - “You cannot keep people in those conditions indefinitely; you destroy them. And who allows you to destroy people?”

PETER BUGDEN | The Catholic Leader

BRISBANE - A senior priest in Papua New Guinea has turned to Australia seeking compassion for refugees and asylum seekers languishing in our nation’s off-shore detention system.

Fr Giorgio Licini, general secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and Solomon Islands, has been in Australia in recent weeks pressing the case for an end to what he calls “a humanitarian crisis”.

Fr Licini has called for the Australian government to resolve the situation on humanitarian grounds.

Speaking as a missionary from PNG – a member of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions – and as a church man, Fr Licini said “we don’t necessarily question the policies of government in terms of border protection … but in this specific case I would say, see now the humanitarian crisis”.

Continue reading "On Australian mission, Fr Giorgio says refugee crisis worsening" »

Marape govt begins to address PNG’s grim cancer battle

Rebecca and Benona
Young Angau Hospital patients Rebecca and Benona later succumbed to cancer - Papua New Guinea has a desperate shortage of equipment and drugs to fight the disease


PORT MORESBY - We are all susceptible to cancer regardless of age, sex, race, health and socioeconomic situation.

Cancer strikes indiscriminately. It takes alike the old and young, weak and robust, eliminating a former common misconception- one of many myths of cancer - that it is mainly an ailment consigned to the older age bracket.

In recent years males are catching up to cancer’s prevalence amongst females - shattering another misconception that females are more prone to cancer.

Unlike death and its inevitability, cancer can be fatal, but is also avoidable and treatable, given the right drugs and equipment.

And it can be curable as well if diagnosed and treated at the earliest stage.

I was privileged to speak to the late Dr John Niblett about this in July 2013. At the time this great and selfless man was director of the Angau Memorial Hospital’s cancer treatment centre.

Continue reading "Marape govt begins to address PNG’s grim cancer battle" »

'Patriarch' Morrison trying to teach Pacific children how to behave

Mungo MacCallum - "Australia is not an innocent bystander at the mercy of the polluting giants: we are a major player"

MUNGO MacCALLUM | John Menadue: Pearls and Irritations

BYRON BAY - The Great White Father has arrived in the far flung atolls of the Pacific. And, like the missionaries before him Scott Morrison is delivering the bringing of the light — a gospel of hope and salvation.

Well, up to a point. Boiled down, his message is that if they are worried about the rising waters, they should sandbag the foreshores and move to higher ground if there is any, because he is not going to do anything substantial to help.

He will, of course, offer money, which his host at the Pacific Islands Forum, Tuvalu prime minister Enele Sopoaga, said was not really the point:

“No matter how much money you put on the table it does not give you the excuse not to do the right thing, which is to cut down on your emissions, including not opening your coalmines. This is the thing we want to see.”

Continue reading "'Patriarch' Morrison trying to teach Pacific children how to behave" »

Kase’s admission of health system failure 10 years overdue

Pascoe-kase (post courier)
"I said to Pascoe Kase (pictured) 'You have to go to the clinics and talk to staff because the information you are giving me here is wrong'.   It turned into a tense exchange"

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE - For the last five years, I have been repeating the same story: ‘We have a crisis in the health system.’

The rest of the country can see it. The people who are victims of the medicine shortages all over the country keep speaking out about it. Health workers have cried while being interviewed because they simply can’t save lives.

And we’re not talking about the expensive cancer treatment and operations families have to pay for. 

It’s the basics that are lacking. Antibiotics, malaria drugs, family planning drugs and consumables. The clinics don’t have them. Or even if they have them, the supplies are not enough for their catchment areas.

Personally, I have emailed the health secretary, Pascoe Kase, about the cancer unit in Lae, the ill-treatment of the late Dr John Niblet and the medicine shortages. I have called and sent text messages.

Continue reading "Kase’s admission of health system failure 10 years overdue" »

Economic segregation: let's get rid of racist advertising for a start

Expat neededEMMANUEL NARAKOBI | My Land, My Country

PORT MORESBY - So let me backtrack. Economic segregation has been practiced for a long time in Papua New Guinea.

The so called ‘expat’, as defined legally for the private sector, was someone supposed to train local talent where relevant experience did not exist in an organisation.

But there is no foreign worker license which then perpetuates the ‘expat’ policy and attitudes. In other words we have institutionalised economic segregation.

When the Bougainville copper mine was established, the company did not just set up a mining project.

It set up an entire town with schools, hospitals and leisure facilities. Everyone, both Papua New Guineans and ‘expats’ lived and worked together in Bougainville with their families using the same facilities.

Continue reading "Economic segregation: let's get rid of racist advertising for a start" »

Pacific islanders face daily ‘destructive realities’ of climate change

Dr Jale Samuwai (Wansolwara)
Dr Jale Samuwai (left) - "Pacific Island countries are at the frontline of the impact of climate change" (Wansolwara)

JUNIOR OIOFA | Wansolwara / Pacific Media Watch

SUVA - Climate change is real and many Pacific Island countries are experiencing this “destructive reality”, says climate researcher Dr Jale Samuwai.

Dr Samuwai became the first graduate to be awarded a PhD in climate change at the University of the South Pacific this year and his analysis of an “equitable Green Climate Fund allocation policy” has been published in the latest Pacific Journalism Review.

Speaking at the recent USP graduation ceremony, he said Pacific Island countries were at the frontline of the impact of climate change.

“Many low-lying atolls in the Pacific region like Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu among others are experiencing the same threat of global warming and sea level rise, which is very destructive to their lives,” he said.

Continue reading "Pacific islanders face daily ‘destructive realities’ of climate change" »

‘Shocking’ levels of child violence in Pacific, says new report

NEWS DESK | Pacific Media Centre / Radio New Zealand

AUCKLAND - A report has detailed shocking levels of physical violence and neglect towards millions of Pacific Islands children, sparking calls for better-targeted aid programs from countries like New Zealand and Australia

The report team, from combined aid agencies, investigated child-rearing practices in seven Pacific countries, as well as Timor-Leste.

The report found as many as four million children experience violence at home across the Pacific – a staggering 2.8 million in Papua New Guinea alone.

More than half of all sexual violence referred to medical clinics involves children in PNG, where almost one in three parents report beating children “as hard as they can”.

Continue reading "‘Shocking’ levels of child violence in Pacific, says new report" »

Logging & mining threaten precious Woodlark Islands ecosystems

WoodlarkGIANLUCA CERULLO | Mongabay | Extracts

Link here to the complete and detailed Mongabay article on the pillaging of Woodlark

MENLO PARK, CALIFORNIA - A unique island ecosystem and culture lying 270 kilometers off Papua New Guinea is once more in the crosshairs.

Over the past decade, Woodlark Islanders have defended their forests — home to dozens of endemic species found nowhere else on Earth — from a slew of threats from loggers, miners and plantation developers.

Their latest challenge comes from a foreign-owned company, Kulawood Limited, which has applied for a permit to log and clear 30,000 hectares of land. If carried out, this will lead to the destruction of some 40% of the island’s forest.

Continue reading "Logging & mining threaten precious Woodlark Islands ecosystems" »

Donors fail to act against Pacific child maltreatment: report

AbuseNATALIE WHITING | Australian Broadcasting Corporation | Extracts

Link here to  the full version of Natalie Whiting’s disturbing story

PORT MORESBY - More than four million children in the Pacific region experience violent discipline at home, according to a report from organisations working on the ground.

"Millions of children experience exceptionally high levels of physical, emotional and sexual violence, as well as neglect," the report said.

But the organisations said despite "clear evidence of the scale and gravity of violence," the Australian government and other key donors have "failed to enact the measures needed to end the scourge".

The report, called ‘Unseen, Unsafe’, claims only $1.1 million, or 0.1% of Australian overseas development assistance in 2017, was directly spent on programs solely targeting violence against children.

"The levels of violence against children across the region are shocking, having a deeply detrimental impact on society. Successive donors and governments have so far failed to address it," the report says.

But the Australian government has defended its spending in the area, saying it has programs which directly and indirectly respond to the problem.

Continue reading "Donors fail to act against Pacific child maltreatment: report" »

The amazing story of PNG’s first professor of surgery

A Surgical LifeKEITH JACKSON with Rob Parer, Robert Brown and other sources

Now in Remission: A Surgical Life, by Ken Clezy, Wakefield Press, 472 pages, December 2012. ISBN-13: 978-1459643420. Paperback $36.99; Kindle Edition $8.43. Available from Amazon USA

LONDON - Ken Clezy AM OBE is a surgeon whose vocation has taken him many places, not all of them safe.

When three colleagues were shot dead at a Yemen mission hospital he escaped only because he had gone home for breakfast.

In Port Moresby, where he was the first professor of surgery at the University of Papua New Guinea, doctors and nurses still say, “Mr Clezy did it this way”.

He performed brain and spinal tumour surgery in PNG for many years and was a pioneer of non-operative management of the ruptured spleen in adults.

But his particular expertise was in the reconstructive surgery of deformities caused by leprosy.

Continue reading "The amazing story of PNG’s first professor of surgery" »

REDD+ a prospect for green economy growth in PNG

Kinjap - REDD+ indigenous community awareness materials distributed by CCDA. Picture by Peter KinjapPETER S KINJAP

PORT MORESBY - According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

The plus sign covers everything left out of that - conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

When talking climate change, REDD+ is a relevant national and international mitigation measure in which Papua New Guinea has a significant interest.

There are a lot of activities under this scheme, purportedly involving the government, landowners, international development partners and the private sector.

REDD+ seeks to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions resulting from declines in global forest cover and quality. The concept is to provide financial incentives in the form of results-based payments to developing countries that successfully slow or reverse forest loss.

Continue reading "REDD+ a prospect for green economy growth in PNG" »

Four anti-corruption takeaways from the 2019 G20 Summit

G20 leaders
The G20 leaders in Osaka - no doubt they are committed to tackling corruption, on paper

EMILIA BERAZATEGUI | Transparency International

BERLIN - After 11th-hour negotiations at the recent G20 summit in Osaka, the assembled leaders reached consensus on a communiqué through which they sought to identify shared solutions to some of the most pressing challenges faced by the global community.

Anti-corruption featured far more prominently in this program than in previous years, and the G20 adopted new commitments and resources for tackling this major threat to sustainable development that works for all.

So, where do we go from here?

After engaging with the G20 throughout the process and attending the Summit, here are our four main anti-corruption takeaways from the 2019 G20.

Continue reading "Four anti-corruption takeaways from the 2019 G20 Summit" »

The fallen calophyllum tree & our real connection to Bougainville

Calophyllum treeSIMON PENTANU

BUKA - A fallen calophyllum tree hacked to death and felled into the sea by the most predatory species on the planet.

This is old growth beach tree is more than a century old.

I know this tree, this is where we used to roam, run and swim along the beach and foreshore when growing up as children in the early 1950s into the 1960s before some of us left the village to get educated in classrooms.

Some of the calophyllum of similar age and size, along with other old growth beach tree species, are still standing along the beach. It is always a great relief to see and touch them and get a sense of perspective of how small a man is compared to their height and huge shade-providing foliage.

This fallen calophyllum met with its fate because, compared to the others along the beach, it had a straighter trunk attractive to provide a couple of sawn planks which were used to contribute to building material for teachers’ housing at the local island school.

Continue reading "The fallen calophyllum tree & our real connection to Bougainville" »

Papua New Guinea: A tough place to be a woman

Michael Bociurkiw
Michael Bociurkiw - "The aspiring 'richest' and 'Christian' nation needs to take immediate action to guarantee the protection of its female citizens"


PORT MORESBY - You don't have to spend a long time on the fringes of Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, to realise that many of the roads lead to a place where luck seems to have run out.

In an urban slum called Eight Mile, women are relegated to decrepit shacks, caring for their children, who are fighting off a range of illnesses from malaria and dengue fever to skin rashes.

Last month, former finance minister James Marape was sworn in as the new prime minister on the promise of transforming the country into "the richest, black, Christian nation on the planet."

But chances are that it will take some time before the women and children of Eight Mile and across much of this South Pacific nation of eight million see any tangible improvements in their livelihoods.

Continue reading "Papua New Guinea: A tough place to be a woman" »

Samoa says how about less patronising talk & more climate action

Fiame Mata’afa (La Trobe University)
Fiame Mata’afa -  'Australia and New Zealand keep telling us that we’re not old enough, not capable enough'


MELBOURNE - Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister, Ms Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, has urged Australia and her own country to “become adults” in their relations, which she said have been marred by “petulance” in the past.

“I think we need to have a more mature relationship. Because quite frankly, it’s been one of patronage, in a way,” said Ms Mata’afa, delivering a keynote address last week to a development conference hosted by La Trobe University in Melbourne.

She illustrated her concerns in the context of increasing diplomatic competition between China and Australia within the Pacific region.

Ms Mata’afa, who is the daughter of Samoa’s first prime minister and has served as the country’s deputy prime minister since 2016, said “people keep on telling us, including Australia and New Zealand, that we’re not old enough, we’re not capable enough, to run our own relationships with China.

“When it comes to us, they say, ‘you really need to be, you should remember that we are your older brothers, or sisters, here in the Pacific, and you have to be careful of those Chinese people’ ”.

Continue reading "Samoa says how about less patronising talk & more climate action" »

World Whistleblower Day: Is this a landmark year for protection?

Brian Alois
No protection for PNG whistleblower Brian Alois - still suspended as provincial engineer  more than a year after exposing corrupt contracts

NEWS DESK | Transparency International

BERLIN - The brave individuals who report wrongdoing at work are vital for exposing corrupt schemes and actions.

Countless lives and billions of dollars of public funds have been saved thanks to whistleblowers.

Too often, however, they face retaliation after bringing corruption, fraud and financial malpractice to light.

These attacks are sometimes professional, sometimes legal, and can even be directed against the whistleblower’s family, property or physical and mental well-being.

Many times, those who enact revenge on whistleblowers are able to get away with it because there aren’t sufficient measures in place to protect whistleblowers from retaliation.

But, is change around the corner?

Today we celebrate World Whistleblower Day, Sunday 23 June, with some serious wins for whistleblower protection already behind us in 2019, and some encouraging developments on the horizon.

Continue reading "World Whistleblower Day: Is this a landmark year for protection?" »

The Kimadi – a microcosm of PNG’s troubles with land alienation

A forest denuded (Tallulah)
Signs that the Kimadi’s subsistence lifestyle is under threat appeared last July when Malaysian company Woodbank Pacific began logging 10 kilometres upstream

ROBERTA STALEY | Corporate Knights

Link to the full article here

MADANG - Eight members of the Kimadi tribe stand, crouch or sit on the hard ground, knotty with exposed tree roots, enjoying the relative cool offered by a verdant canopy of leaves overhead.

Just a few metres away, the quiet clear waters of a Bismarck Sea lagoon, filled with small schools of striped tropical fish, lap against the grassy bank.

The setting is tranquil and bucolic – but not for the Kimadi, who have travelled from their traditional territory in Madang  Province to consult with an NGO, the Bismarck Ramu Group (BRG).

Founded in 1996 and headquartered just outside the town of Madang, BRG provides consulting services and advice to Indigenous groups like the Kimadi who are fighting ever-growing threats from logging and palm oil development on their lands.

Continue reading "The Kimadi – a microcosm of PNG’s troubles with land alienation" »

30,000 TB cases a year makes PNG a regional health issue

Lady Roslyn  Morauta
Lady Roslyn Morauta - "8.5 million people face very serious development and public health challenges"


PORT MORESBY - Investing in health is one of the best ways to build a better future. Healthy societies are more stable and equal and have stronger and more productive economies.

In today’s increasingly interconnected world, improving public health is a global common good.

Because microbes do not stop at borders, an infectious disease threat in any corner of the world can be a threat everywhere. No one is safe until everyone is safe.

Take the example of Papua New Guinea, where I have lived and worked for many years.

Since the turn of the century, there has been significant progress in the fight against HIV and malaria in PNG.

Continue reading "30,000 TB cases a year makes PNG a regional health issue" »

Pacific islands will view Adani mine decision with dismay

Wesley Morgan
Wesley Morgan - "To avoid catastrophic impacts, the world cannot expand coal production"


SUVA - News has broken that the controversial Adani coal mine in Australia has been given the green light for work to start.

So how will this news be greeted by other countries in Australia's Pacific neighbourhood?

Coal is the single greatest driver of climate change. In 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) explained that coal-fired power must be phased out to avoid dangerous climate change.

To avoid catastrophic impacts, the world cannot expand coal production. Last year, 12 Pacific island countries issued a joint statement at United Nations climate talks explaining "there must be no expansion of existing coal mines or the creation of new mines."

At last year's annual Pacific Islands Forum meeting, 16 countries (including Australia) issued a regional security declaration explaining climate change is the "single greatest threat" facing the region.

Continue reading "Pacific islands will view Adani mine decision with dismay" »

USAID supports PNG & Pacific region to address climate change

Billy Bau, Ruben Robin & Peter Kinjap
Billy Bau, Ruben Robin & Peter Kinjap work on project to sustain forests using blockchain


Images by Stella Wainetti

PORT MORESBY – A key pathway to combat climate involves building capacity and training locals to be climate change ready and resilient.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has taken the lead to provide the required training for people in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu so they can better address climate change issues.

According to US Ambassador to PNG, Catherine Ebert-Gray, well over $80 million has been invested in Pacific environmental and climate change projects over the last few years.

The USAID climate ready project has been in PNG for nine years, with $11 million in small grants being disbursed.

The project was established so PNG and island nations could access the growing amount of international funds available specifically for Pacific countries to address the effects of climate change.

Continue reading "USAID supports PNG & Pacific region to address climate change" »

Combating gender-based violence must be a govt priority

Dr Fiona Hukula
Dr Fiona Hukula - "Gender-based violence is a key issue which requires continued government attention"

FIONA HUKULA | National Research Institute | Edited

PORT MORESBY - In his maiden speech as prime minister, James Marape, stated that Papua New Guinea’s economy will be the key priority for his government.

Mr Marape also reiterated the need to maximise local benefits from the extraction of the country’s natural resources.

It is important to note that a strong and resilient economy will have a positive impact on men, women and children.

However, a prosperous, secure and equitable society requires continued and concerted effort in addressing fundamental problems that affects women and children. Gender-based violence is a key issue which requires continued government attention.

All forms of violence against women and children such as rape, sexual assault and violence related to sorcery accusation affects individuals, families and communities.

Violence against women affects their mental and physical health; and their mobility and productivity.

Continue reading "Combating gender-based violence must be a govt priority" »

Australia has voted – what does this mean for the Pacific?

Tess Newton Cain (2)
Tess Newton Cain - new Australian government should have something new to say to the Pacific on climate change

TESS NEWTON CAIN | Vanuatu Daily Post

BRISBANE - Not content with watching Vanuatu’s elections and those of our Pacific island neighbours, I also kept a fairly close eye on the Australian federal elections that took place last weekend.

Given that Pacific policy was one area where there were some key differences between the two major parties, there was good reason to take an interest in what transpired.

So now that we know that the Morrison government has been returned, what do leaders and commentators in the region and the Australian diaspora think this result means for the Pacific?

What are they hoping to see from the Morrison government when it comes to sustaining the ‘Pacific step up’?

Climate change is essentially where these conversations start and end. On Facebook, Fiji’s prime minister Bainimarama was quite effusive in his congratulations referring to Scott Morrison as his ‘friend’.

Continue reading "Australia has voted – what does this mean for the Pacific?" »

A home in the clouds: Working to save the tree kangaroo

Critically endangered tree kangaroo (Jonathan Byers  TKCP)
Critically endangered  - Papua New Guinea's tree kangaroo (Jonathan Byers,  TKCP)

TREVOR HOLBROOK, JIM THOMAS & ANDREA EGAN | UNDP Ecosystems & Biodiversity | Edited extracts

WASHINGTON, USA - Sought after for subsistence-based hunting, as part of rural communities’ diets for centuries, the critically endangered tree kangaroos have been hunted almost to extinction, but now local communities and conservation groups are fighting together to save them.

Tree kangaroos are found only in the rainforests of Australia, West Papua, and Papua New Guinea. Looking like a cross between a kangaroo and a lemur, they have adapted to life in the trees, with shorter hind legs and stronger forelimbs for climbing.

Despite weighing up to 16kg, tree kangaroos are remarkably elusive, and often invisible high in the forest canopy.

Continue reading "A home in the clouds: Working to save the tree kangaroo" »

Working to address the threat of climate change in PNG

Climate - Weather  patterns are unpredictable in the highlands (T4G PNG)
Weather patterns are changing in the  PNG highlands as more rainfall impact roads and the economy (T4G PNG)


PORT MORESBY – The earth experienced very warm periods 50 to 70 million years ago and very cold periods 600,000 years ago and most people are aware that the climate is changing again.

But this time the change is not caused by extreme volcanic periods or projects from space colliding with earth. It is anthropogenic – created by us, the people who live on the planet.

The history of climate science is relatively recent. The first scientist to publish on the subject was the Swede Svante Arrhenius in 1896 who hypothesised that human-caused carbon dioxide emissions would be large enough to cause global warming.

Nearer to the present, a report published in 1979 predicted that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would double from pre-industrial levels by about 2035. Today it is expected this will happen by about 2050. A doubling of carbon dioxide will lead to an average warming of the planet of 2°C to 3°C.

Continue reading "Working to address the threat of climate change in PNG" »

Three medicos say hello to PNG's newest beautiful citizen

Dr Kevin Pondikou (right) and final year medical students Tommy and Frank, holding the precious baby boy


RUMGINAE - Last week Thursday, after doing the ward round, I was informed there was a woman with antepartum haemorrhage (APH or bleeding during pregnancy).

It had been a long ward round but I had the help of medical students from the medical faculty at Taurama in Port Moresby who were here doing their rural block attachment.

The MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) program is a five year course following which they graduate as doctors.

I was especially excited because we have never had medical students from Papua New Guinea here in Rughaz.

We’ve had medical students from Australia, America and New Zealand but this is the first time we've our own.

As part of their training in remote and rural health, I used the opportunity to teach them how to do ultrasound scans on pregnant women to ascertain the foetal biometrics (including working out the age of the foetus according to the foetal head and femur length).

While doing the scan after the ward round, we found out that the cause of the bleeding was placenta praevea (where the placenta comes before the baby and can lead to excessive blood loss resulting in death of the mother and unborn child).

Continue reading "Three medicos say hello to PNG's newest beautiful citizen" »

Porgera, brutality & the theft of PNG's resources

Porgera gold mine
Porgera gold mine - removal of gold has left the Porgerans very poor and very angry


NEW DELHI - Few people outside Papua New Guinea know about Porgera.

Those who do know about it know that it is one of the centres of international gold mining, with a major company with an innocuous name – Porgera Joint Venture– sucking out the enormous deposits of gold from its mountainous landscape.

The Porgera mine is one of the world’s top 10 producers of gold, which makes it remarkably rich – although the people who live near the mine have not shared in the spoils. The proven gold reserves of the Porgera mine are worth more than US$10 billion at today’s gold prices.

This is only one of PNG’s mines. There are hundreds more that run from one end of the country to another. The population of PNG is only eight million, which – given such wealth – would suggest that its people lived enriched lives. But this is not the case.

Continue reading "Porgera, brutality & the theft of PNG's resources" »

Faith in action: Queensland doctor & family move to Kudjip

Lean family in PNG (Mary Lean)
The Lean family at their new home in Kudjip in the Western Highlands

PETER GUNDERS | ABC Southern Queensland | Extract

TOOWOOMBA, QLD - Dave and Mary Lean have made a very different kind of tree change — taking their five young children with them from Toowoomba in southern Queensland to the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

"A lot of people say, 'Are you taking your children with you?', but I think in their minds they're actually asking, 'Are you crazy?'" Dr Lean said.

"Our youngest is 15 months old, and we're going for at least two years. So yes, we're taking our children!" Dr Lean said.

Home will be on the compound of a 160-bed hospital in Kudjip, an hour's drive east of Mt Hagen.

Dave Lean will be one of two paediatricians at the hospital that covers a population of 400,000.

"I've loved working at Toowoomba hospital for the past two years, and in one sense the work doesn't change, but the way children present in PNG is often far sicker than what we see in Australia," Dr Lean said.

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REDD+ & helping reduce emissions with blockchain technology

Blockchain - A virgin rainforest in Papua New Guinea  Picture supplied
Virgin rain forest in Papua New Guinea


PORT MORESBY – Deforestation is responsible for up to 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions and is crucial for the international community to achieve its goal of keeping global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Papua New Guinea is the world’s second largest island with a landmass of 46 million hectares, of which 29 million are virgin forest. PNG is second only to Brazil in having the largest tropical rainforest still intact.

Legally, land in PNG is owned by the indigenous people. Only 3% was acquired by the government during the colonial period and 97% is recognized by the Customary Land Registration Act for customary landowners.

PNG also has large mineral deposits and currently exports gold, copper, nickel, oil, liquefied natural gas and other resources in which customary landowners are important stakeholders.

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Remote New Britain rainforest villagers save their community

Tuke village is nestled in a rainforest in the Nakanai Mountains (WildArk)


NAKANAI - For months, members of the Tuke community in Papua New Guinea had watched the destruction around their village in the Nakanai Mountains of New Britain.

Lush forests that had surrounded ancestral generations for centuries were being cleared to make room for palm oil plantations.

The community watched as trucks moved through the once-pristine area, laboring along muddy, newly created logging roads. Their valuable tropical hardwood was leaving the rain forest for distant lands.

The Tuke people worried that soon there would be little left of the forest they had tended for so long. In hopes of finding a solution, three members of the community set out on a three-day walk in August 2016 to ask for help.

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PNG men’s latest stupid problem: Botched penis enlargements

Port Moresby General's 500 cases of penile disfigurement in two years - "These people are causing themselves harm, they do it to themselves"

KATE LYONS | The Guardian

PORT MORESBY - Doctors in Papua New Guinea have warned of a “nationwide problem” of men injecting foreign substances, including coconut oil and silicone, into their penises in an attempt to make them bigger.

A doctor at the Port Moresby General Hospital said that over the last two years his clinic has treated at least 500 men with penile disfigurement and dysfunction as a result of injections.

“I have seen five new cases every week for the past two years and these are the ones that have come forward for treatment. We don’t know how many of them are out there,” said Akule Danlop, a surgeon at the hospital. “I saw seven today.”

The substances injected include coconut oil, baby oil, silicone and cooking oil and the side effects are serious, sometimes irreversible.

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‘Pipia bilong nambis’: Our beaches deserve better than rubbish

Port Moresby Beach  flooded with plastic waste
A Port Moresby beach inundated with plastic waste


TUMBY BAY - Before my wife and I left Hervey Bay in Queensland to move to the west coast of South Australia, we sold our hulking great Toyota LandCruiser but kept our little red Suzuki Jimny.

The 20-year old Jimny is a true four-wheel drive with a narrow wheelbase, no rear hang over, H-frame chassis and mechanically operated transfer case.

It will go places where big, heavy four-wheel drives come to grief and it is an ideal vehicle for one of the pleasures of life, pottering along remote beaches.

Because we are far away from any city or urban areas the beaches here are pristine.

They are especially nice where they occur in little coves surrounded by rocky cliffs well away from any road and only accessible by boat, on foot or in a little red Jimny.

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New data offers insights into rural poverty & undernutrition

The Ramu River winds its way through the rich valley that bears its name

EMILY SCHMIDT | International Food Policy Research Institute

WASHINGTON DC - The dinghy ride up the Ramu River takes nine long hours, but my excitement mounted as we approached the small villages in the lowlands of northern Papua New Guinea.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by children paddling and playing in wooden dugout canoes, and women washing sago palm (an important staple food among lowland populations of PNG) for food preparation. 

When the rumble of the boat’s diesel motor finally cut out at the small sandbar that would serve as our boat dock for the next several days, we were surrounded by an incredible silence that whispered of the isolated lifestyle and resilience of the villagers.

We spent three months last year collecting detailed household survey data for a research project investigating how rural communities ensure food security when faced with natural disasters or other unplanned shocks to household food production.

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Report shows mining pollution limits access to clean water

Mining pollution
Mining pollution turns the Pongema River red (Red Water Report)

ALY AZHAR | Earth Institute | Columbia University

NEW YORK - A new report titled ‘Red Water’ documents the social, environmental, economic, and health impacts of gold mining in Porgera, Papua New Guinea.

The report finds that the communities affected by mining do not have access to consistent and safe drinking water.

This is due, in part, to the fact that the PNG government has not met its human rights obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the right to water in Porgera, and because companies that own and operate the mine — Canadian company Barrick Gold and Zijin Mining from China — are in breach of their responsibilities to respect the right to water.

‘Red Water’ finds that the Porgera Joint Venture gold mine poses direct threats to the social and economic rights of communities living near the mine. These key findings are a result of a four-year study conducted by Earth Institute scientists, Pennsylvania State University scientists, and Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic faculty and students.

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Politicians push coal as Pacific lashes climate change

Mongabay - A young boy looks at mud contaminated by salt water (Jeremy Sutton  Greenpeace)
A young boy looks at mud contaminated by salt water (Jeremy Sutton,  Greenpeace)


CALIFORNIA - Politicians in Papua New Guinea are ratcheting up their support for a new foray into coal mining and power generation, even as neighbouring states call for a global reduction in carbon emissions to stave off a catastrophic rise in the sea level.

PNG’s mining minister, Johnson Tuke, recently hailed the prospect of a new coal industry to boost government revenue and public access to electricity, following visits to coal mines and power stations in Australia.

PNG has no coal mines or coal-fired power plants; in Australia, 60% of grid electricity comes from burning coal.

But the burning of coal is one of the largest contributors to human-driven climate change, setting PNG up on a collision course with smaller Pacific island states, such as Kiribati and Tuvalu, where rising sea levels threaten coastal communities and undermine water and food security.

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Deep sea mining threatens PNG's indigenous culture

Duke of York Islands
The people of Duke of York Islands are tied spiritually to events in the deep sea (John Childs)

JOHN CHILDS | The Conversation, UK

LANCASTER - “When they start mining the seabed, they’ll start mining part of me.”

These are the words of a clan chief of the Duke of York Islands – a small archipelago in the Bismarck Sea of Papua New Guinea which lies 30km from the world’s first commercial deep sea mine site, known as “Solwara 1”.

The project, which has been delayed due to funding difficulties, is operated by Canadian company Nautilus Minerals and is poised to extract copper from the seabed, 1600m below the surface.

Valuable minerals are created as rapidly cooling gases emerge from volcanic vents on the seafloor. Mining the seabed for these minerals could supply the metals and rare earth elements essential to building electric vehicles, solar panels and other green energy infrastructure.

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Government land summit is a new corporate land grab

Land is our lifeEDDIE TANAGO | Act Now!

PORT MORESBY - The Papua New Guinea government is plotting to grab more customary land and hand it to multi-national companies and the commercial banks

The government has been forced to stop issuing illegal SABL leases but now wants to use the national land summit as a cover to find new ways to ‘facilitate access’ to customary land’ for big business and the banks.

It is duplicitous for the Lands Minister to claim that “customary land will never be taken away” as a 99-year lease can mean multiple generations of people lose all rights to use their land.

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PNG needs a 180 degree turn on preventing death & sickness

Plastic pollution on a PNG shoreline (UNDP)


GOLD COAST – PNG’s prime minister Peter O’Neill was recently quoted as saying that “preventing death and sickness as a result of inadequate sanitation is a personal quest of mine to improve health and hygiene.”

He continued: “I have lost several friends and relatives to preventable sicknesses caused by poor hygiene conditions such as the use of filthy toilets and a lack of health facilities. We must do all we can to improve hygiene.”

During the 18th and 19th centuries the skill of grinding glass lenses led to the construction of microscopes.

Scientists and the medical fraternity then became aware of the existence of bacteria and ultimately of viruses. Today we refer to these life forms under the general heading, ‘germs’.

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The picture of a grieving mum that told a million stories

Ezekiel's mum weeps over his body (Sally Lloyd)
Ezekiel's mum weeps over his body (Sally Lloyd)

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE - A few days ago, I asked Sally Lloyd about the picture she posted on Facebook of a distraught mother weeping over the body of her baby who had died.  This is the story behind the picture.

They are from Fomabi Village near Nomad. It’s in Nomad LLG - I think... middle Fly in Western Province.

The child got sick with pneumonia, I believe, and Nomad Health Centre could not help them. The facility there has been very run down and ill equipped for a very long time. 

They then had to make the long walk to Mougulu health centre for many hours to get further help.

Unfortunately, the child died the following afternoon, and without any helpers with them the parents had to walk back to their village with the dead child.

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Cuban doctors won’t solve PNG’s medical problems


PORT MORESBY - The O’Neill government has totally bungled the health system on the watch of a health minister who is a registered medical practitioner.

Recently, the government has sought to blame Papua New Guinean doctors and public servants for hampering its efforts to bring in Cuban doctors and claims they are the cause of deteriorating health conditions.

This deliberate use of deflective communications, along with the oversimplification of the problem and solution, is representative of how the O’Neill regime continues to misinform citizens.

In a country like PNG where much of the populace is ignorant and illiterate many people would think Cuban doctors will equate to better health. But healthcare is more than doctors.

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Environmental wreck: More plastic than fish in Waigani swamp

The river of plastics and other rubbish penetrates the Gabagabada


PORT MORESBY – The Waigani swamp is a freshwater swamp known in the Motu language as Gabagabada or Big Swamp.

It stretches from Gerehu Stage 6, a contour north of Port Moresby, to 8 Mile, an area in the north-east of the city.

In those nostalgic days, just before Europeans invaded and paved the way for Asians and other people to migrate to Port Moresby, the Waigani swamp was a Garden of Eden to the Motu-Koitabu people.

It was home to edible fish species like the tilapia, gold michaels, stoneheads and eels. It was also a sanctuary for wild pigs, magani, deer, crocodiles, snakes, swans and many different species of birds.

As Port Moresby expanded, the city authorities decided to pipe some of the city’s sewage to the Waigani swamp turning it into a boiling shit-cream quagmire topped with a brown foam.

Settlers who had migrated to the city from the highlands colonised the rest of the swamp where the scorching sun and the pangs of poverty dented their dreams.

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Rapacious loggers & bewildered people – the taking apart of PNG

Sabl-billboard-cartoon (PNG Exposed)
SABL cartoon (PNG Exposed)


CARDIFF, WALES – Those foreign loggers are so entrenched with the spivs of the national government that the Special Agriculture and Business Lease (SABL) saga can never end well for Papua New Guinea’s ordinary villagers.

In his letter written in 2002 and published recently in PNG Attitude, the late Sam Gallaher said:

“On the day they (Rimbunan Hijau) got access to this country’s timber they signed a deal with UMW Komatsu tractors and purchased 700 major items of second hand plant from UMW owned by a Malaysian company. The then prime minister of this country picked up a consideration of K60 million.”

In late October 2017 I was in Kavieng when I was handed a copy of Government Gazette G161 notifying the gazettal of a SABL over almost 80% of my wife’s island of Lavongai for 99 years free of any land tax.

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