Anglican Alliance report on earthquake relief efforts in Papua New Guinea
The Anglican Alliance has been in touch with the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea after a large earthquake of 7.5 magnitude struck in Enga province on 26th February. The quake has caused landslides and sinkholes in the region, and phone lines have been cut. Aftershocks continue to cause fear, particularly after one of 6.7 magnitude hit the same area on 8th March. Staff from the Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) Australia have been in PNG working with the church leadership to shape the humanitarian response.
The official death toll has risen to 145 but still has further to climb, officials have said. It is expected that the figure might increase once all people have been accounted for. From the reports received at the command centres in Tari and Mendi, 45 have died so far in the Southern Highlands province and in Hela 80 people are confirmed dead. About 270,000 people, including 125,000 children, require urgent humanitarian assistance. As well as food, water is a challenge as traditional water sources have been interrupted, with the danger of water borne diseases as people are forced to drink from unsafe sources. Shelter and health are also priority needs. Aftershocks are continuing in some areas and people are not returning to their homes and mountainside crops for fear of further landslides.
The Church Partnership Program in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has brought together members of the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea, the Baptist Union of PNG, the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventist and the United Church in PNG. The United Church has established church-led response centres in Tari, Hela Province and Mendi, Southern Highlands, to coordinate initial needs assessments and share church actions and to plan for the coordinated response and recovery efforts.
“People are bewildered and traumatised by the severe events . . . and families continue to sleep outside for fear of the ongoing aftershocks,” said United Church Bishop Wai Tege. “People of the highlands are not used to the impact of natural disasters, and this Magnitude 7.5 earthquake has taken everyone by surprise. The last major earthquake to hit the highlands region . . . was in 1922 – almost a century ago.”
Many people have been traumatised by the earthquake and aftershocks. We continue to ask for prayers from around the Communion for all those who are acting to respond in the relief effort.
The Church intends to purchase supplies locally, in Goroka or Mt Hagen, and transport them to parishes by road or air. Archbishop Allan Migi is asking Anglicans and others to support the emergency appeal. Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) in Australia seeks to raise funds for humanitarian aid so that vital supplies of food and water can be provided for the many people in need.
To donate to ABM’s PNG Earthquake Emergency Appeal please visit here.
Anglican Missions Board of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has also launched an appeal. To donate please click on this link.
We will continue to update this page as more information comes in .
Please continue to pray for those affected by the earthquake and pray for the Church’s response.
God of all creation, we lift up before you the nation of Papua New Guinea and especially the people of the Highlands Province as they recover from earthquakes and landslides. We mourn with them for those who have died, we pray for the healing of those who are injured, for strength and courage for all those who work to provide safe shelter, to bring aid and recovery. We pray for Bishop Nathan, Archbishop Allan and all who provide leadership to these communities in this time of need. May your strength, wisdom and hope rest upon them and all they serve. We pray for the whole Anglican Church of PNG, for the people of Mendi and the communities throughout the Highlands, that they may know the presence of your compassionate and life-giving spirit, that they may work together for the good of all people. Through Christ our Lord we pray, Amen.
– Bishop Andrew Hedge, Diocese of Waiapu (New Zealand partner diocese to ACPNG)