30 Dec 2003

Police in PNG's Madang province ban NGOs from assisting settlers

12:42 pm on 30 December 2003

Police in the Papua New Guinea province of Madang have banned all non-government organisations from assisting evicted settlers in the province.

The Post Courier reports that PNG's Red Cross secretary-general, Jacqueline Boga, says they're being prevented from providing humanitarian aid to the displaced settlers, some of whom have fallen ill due to exposure to bad weather.

Police had earlier burnt down legal and illegal settlements, leaving 12,000 people homeless in an attempt to evict them from the province.

Ms Boga says when the eviction was stopped, the Red Cross went in with some food and temporary shelters.

The local Red Cross representative, Maureen Hill, had also organised transportation for thousands of people to return to their home provinces.

Ms Boga says the PNG Red Cross hasn't been singled out in the ban but is one organisation that has been affected by the blanket order.

Neither the police nor provincial government authorities have given any reasons for the banning of assistance.