OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Climate change and displacement: the alarm of Caritas

Wednesday, 27 March 2019


Port Moresby (Agenzia Fides) - "The time has come for us to work side by side with the people of Manam, with the authorities of Bogia and Madang and with the national government, to bring tangible changes to the well-being of our people": the said Henry Konaka, leader of the Manam Association of Port Moresby, participating in a round table organized in recent days by the Caritas Commission of Papua New Guinea (CPNG), on climate change and specifically on the issue of the Manam islands, in Madang province, and in the Cartaret islands in the autonomous region of Bougainville.
Participants included representatives of the Bishops' Conference, members of Caritas from different dioceses, ecclesial leaders, students. Representatives of the autonomous region of Bougainville talked about the island of Cartaret and of the many problems faced in recent decades. Matthew McGarry, representative for Caritas relief services added: "Every day and every year that passes, we see climate change as one of the greatest advocates of misery and despair. As Caritas our mission is to serve the poor and vulnerable people around the world".
Caritas has expressed concern for the inhabitants of the Carteret and Manam islands, in the Archdiocese of Madang: for more than 2,000 people "food is scarce when the tides flood the coasts and hinterland of the island, destroying basic food crops". "Since the '70s families have survived mainly on coconut and fish", but now those populations are no longer able to secure their livelihood. The diocese of Bougainville has identified a plot of 300 hectares of land to resettle the islanders of Carteret and asks the government of Bougainville to provide concrete help.
The people of Manam also experience the same problems: 22,000 people have been uprooted from their lands due to climate change and forced to move to various assistance centers for internally displaced people. The Church asks the government to commit itself to their full resettlement. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 27/3/2019)