16 May 2005

US Navy hospital ship arrives to help those displaced by eruptions on PNG's Manam Island

7:04 am on 16 May 2005

A US Navy hospital ship has arrived off the coast of Papua New Guinea to provide medical aid to thousands of islanders displaced by volcanic eruptions on Manam Island.

The USNS Mercy's medical teams will provide onshore assistance to residents of the coastal city of Madang.

The Australian Associated Press says they will also help islanders evacuated to three temporary camps on mainland plantations after the Manam eruptions last October and November.

The PNG government has said it will buy three plantations for the displaced islanders to resettle on.

But the aid program to assist the islanders has beset with accusations of mismanagement and misuse of funds by disaster relief officials as food and other aid failed to reach the camps.

Officials have said that a number of elderly have died due to a lcak of food.

The Mercy's navy and civilian medical teams will provide a range of medical aid and training at the camps including immunisations, surgery, disease prevention, malaria testing and eye and dental treatment while technical staff will repair medical equipment.

The Mercy's six-day mission follows similar missions by the 1,000-bed ship to assist victims of the Boxing Day tsunami in the Indian Ocean and of the earthquake that struck Nias Island in Sumatra in March