‘Only one meal per day’ – 20 die in PNG Highlands flooding

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More than 20 people have been reported dead
More than 20 people have been reported dead in Chimbu Province following torrential rain and flash flooding. Image: RNZ

By Lydia Lewis, RNZ Pacific journalist

Food rationing is underway in remote areas in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands following torrential rain and flash flooding.

More than 20 people have been reported dead in Chimbu Province.

In nearby Enga Province, the centre of last month’s massacre, a 15-year-old boy has been swept away in flooding.

Wapenamanda community leader Aquila Kunzie told RNZ Pacific his village alone was housing almost 100 displaced women and children from the tribal warfare.

As bad weather hampers food production, the need for aid is critical, Kunzie said.

“The massacre has claimed any lives. As the days go by . . . the government is taking the initiative to call for peace negotiations that are ongoing at the moment,” he said.

“The situation is [that] we are feeling the impact of short supply and food rations in the village.

“We are being neglected due to probably bad politics,” Kunzie said.

Kunzie spoke to RNZ Pacific from Mambisanda village mission station where he said the mighty Timin River was only 15m walking distance.

“Constant continuous rainfall in Wapenamanda district has caused rivers to flood,” Kunzie said, adding “food gardens have been washed away”.

A grade eight student has was reportedly washed away, Kunzie said.

“We couldn’t find him due to the heavy flood. The boy is about 15-years-old,” he said.

Woman mutilated
On top of flooding, The National is reporting a woman has been found dead in Wapenamanda despite a ceasefire being agreed to by warring factions.

“It has also been reported maybe the rascals people must have raped her and wounded her and threw her helpless on the road and she was found in the morning,” Kunzie said.

While the woman was found on the road in another village to where Kunzie is, his village is housing “almost 100” victims of tribal warfare.

But with so many mouths to feed and food crops damaged by heavy rains food rationing is in place.

“Only one meal per day, we can’t afford breakfast and lunch with all of them.”

“We say drink only water and stay and have one meal and go to bed and wait for the next day.”

The bad weather has hampered the growth of food and that is becoming a “very critical issue”, Kunzie said.

He said calls for help have fallen on deaf ears.

“We have no way to call out for help,” he said.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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