By Lillian Sopera Keneqa – EMTV News, Port Moresby
When the 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck affecting about 5 provinces in Papua New Guinea in February 2018, the Indian Government also wanted to offer assistance. Unfortunately by the time negotiations were completed, the Indian general elections took place. Just recently, the Indian Government was finally able to give more than just money towards aid for the earthquake-affected areas.
The Indian Government has given US$ 1 million to assist with earthquake-affected areas in terms of recovery and rebuilding the communities again.
It has been over a year since the devastating quake hit about 5 provinces in the country, however, the memory and experience will forever linger in our minds.
Indian High Commissioner, Vijai Kumar, said “On behalf of the people of India, I offer our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have been killed and our deep sympathies to all those, whose lives have been affected by the dreadful disaster.”
When the earthquakes happened last year, the Indian government wanted to offer help. Discussions were held between the PNG High Commission in New Delhi, Indian counterparts and the PNG Emergency controller regarding specific assistance that might be offered.
Unfortunately by the time negotiations were completed, the Indian general elections were already underway. In appreciation, Defense Minister, Saki Soloma, said “It is with great pleasure that we arrive here …to this handover ceremony as both sides have worked tirelessly to make this … a reality.”
PNG and India are members of the Regional Integrated Multi-hazard Early -Warning System (RIMES) which is a platform for integrated regional corporation among the 26 member countries in Africa and Asia Pacific. The membership provides a platform for further collaboration and cooperation. The Pacific island nations have proposed and are in discussions for a regional facility.
Papua New Guinea Defense Minister, Soloma, assured the Indian High Commissioner and the people of India saying, “This contribution will be used to alleviate suffering of people affected by natural disasters.”
He added, “All funds will be guaranteed in the separate trust account and full acquittal given to the Indian High Commission while we continue with recovery activities for the earthquake we are now beset with major volcanic eruptions at Manam and Ulawun.”
Since the earthquake, the affected areas are still in recovery phase in which achieving water resilience is a big priority.
Minister Soloma mentioned that the disasters, while testing, can be effectively managed with regional partners like India.
He said, “I would like to pursue discussions regarding possible Government of Indian support to strengthen our national disaster preparedness, and management capacities.”