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January 17, 2021
Momase News

Understanding Manam Islanders as Displaced People

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By Joanita Nonwo – EMTV Online
WHAT IS HUMAN MIGRATION?

Human Migration in a simple sense is the movement of people from one area to another.

Human Migration may happen for a number of reasons that act as push and pull factors that drive migration:

  • Economic
  • Social
  • Political or
  • Environmental

The increase of extreme weather conditions—droughts, storms, and floods—are already altering economies, economic development, and patterns of human migration.

Migration can be permanent, temporary, voluntary or forced and it can be international or internal.

HOW DO DISASTERS AFFECT PEOPLE’S CHOICE TO MIGRATE?

One of the many reasons people migrate is usually in response of a natural disaster (environmental).

This type of migration is usually a forced migration-where the people are moved from their homes to another location, mostly not on their own will, a clear example of a push factor.

Not all natural disasters become a force migration; people are only moved when they are in risk of danger and are vulnerable to it.

A study by the Norwegian Refugee Council found that twice as many people now lose their homes to disasters since the 1970s.

“Basically, the combination of mega natural disasters and hundreds of smaller natural disasters massively displaces people in many more countries than the countries that have war and conflict,” said Jan Egeland, the secretary of the Norwegian refugee council.

WHAT HAPPENS TO MIGRANTS?

When people are being moved they become displaced as they no longer are on their own land. Those that are displaced within their own countries become Internally Displaced Persons (IDP).

It is estimated that there are 26 million Internally Displaced Persons worldwide, as a result of conflicts of which 13.5 million are children.

There are more when those displaced by environmental disasters are included.

 

A CASE OF THE MANAM ISLANDERS OF MADANG PROVINCE

Manam Island, located 15km off the north coast of Bogia District in Madang Province is one of Papua New Guinea’s active island volcanos.  In its latest volcanic eruption of 2004, approximately 10,000 Islanders became displaced on care centres on the main land, having their homes, food gardens, cash crops, water wells, livestock and the natural environment destroyed.

CHALLENGES FACED BY INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS (IDPs)  AT CARE CENTRES:

There are many issues that affect IDPs, suffering significantly higher rates of mortality than the general population.

While visiting the care centres, the islanders explain how many of their elderly have died because of psychological stress from being separated from their homeland.

The overwhelming majority of internally displaced persons are women and children who are especially at risk of abuse of their basic rights.

Linda Kaungeri, a grade 10 student, said she had to return to the island with her family after she couldn’t attend school as a result of limited space and other social issues such as insufficient land for gardening, poor shelters, and disputes among the landowners of the care centres.

To this day, Manam Island has been declared as a disaster zone by the Papua New Guinean Government and so returning is at the islanders’ own risk.

“For those who have returned to the island, they are clearly putting themselves in danger,” stated the Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Manager with IOM, Mr Wonesai Sithole, explaining that there are no other disaster prevention measures for them to take except migration.

 

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