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January 24, 2021

Disaster Relief Constraints Lead To Kidnapping Of Madang Disaster Boss

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by Rachael Shisei – EM TV News, Madang

The constraints of providing relief supplies to those affected by last year’s eight month drought, as well as for victims of the minor eruption of the Manam Island volcano, has led to the kidnapping of the Madang Disaster Director, Rudolph Mongalee.

Returning from a relief supply delivery to the Manam Islanders, the Disaster Director was held up at a roadblock by four youths.

“I took them to the place they wanted me to, because they were armed so I had to cooperate. I was with them for a day, a night and released the next day,” said Mongalee.

He said his kidnappers asked him why his Department is giving too much attention to the Manam Islanders, and not everyone else.

“They asked me why I am so concerned about the Manam people and I explained to them, that it is not me, it is the national government’s priority because they are the ‘Internal Displaced People’. They were not satisfied so they started slapping me,” Mongalee said.

The Disaster Director said he’s fully aware that incidents, like his kidnapping, indicates that the people are frustrated and are trying to get answers. He states they have the right to.

“The services that I’m supposed to deliver, I’m not delivering because the districts are not cooperating to chip in from their DSIP Funds, as indicated by the national government’s circular,” he continued.

The Manam Islanders, for instance, are also one of the most frustrated people, because they were affected by the double impacts of the minor eruption, and the eight month longdrought that followed last year. 

According to one of their leaders, Kenny Bolu, the Disaster Office has to communicate well with leaders on the ground, so that the right message is passed onto the people in order to avoid incidents like this kidnapping.

“The disaster office has to see us as its partners, there has to be clear communication between the office and our councilors, kukurais/elders and village recorders. We need each other for smooth coordination,” said Bolu, the Vice President of Manam’s Biang village.

The RD Tuna Cannery has so far been the only company in the province that has donated 600 cartons of tinned fish, to the Madang Disaster Office to deliver as relief supplies.

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