30 Dec 2003

PNG Red Cross says progress has been made in relief efforts for settlers

11:14 am on 30 December 2003

The chairwoman of the Red Cross in the Papua New Guinea province of Madang says conditions have slowly begun to improve in the region, following last weeks' eviction of settlers, but there's a long way to go.

Police burnt down the houses of illegal and legal settlers in order to force nearly 12,000 people to return to their home provinces.

Maureen Hill says despite bad weather, at least medical clinics have now reopened.

"Its not good, and we've had rain all the time. But the health centres have been opened and stocked with medicine, limited amount. But they do now have access because you see when the police went in there, they shut them down the health clinics. There's two major ones and they're open."

Ms Hill says the Red Cross have organised barges, coastal ships and trucks to start transporting people back to their home provinces.

She says there is still no sign of the 124,000 U.S. dollars that the government was giving towards the resettlement operation.