9 Jun 2005

Focus on self-reliance for PNG volcano evacuees

7:49 pm on 9 June 2005

The Archdiocese of Madang in Papua New Guinea says there's little hope that displaced Manam Islanders can return to their homes evacuated after the devastating volcanic eruptions last year.

The Catholic aid agency Caritas Australia has joined the Archdiocese in monitoring the food distribution and rebuilding programme for the 11,000 evacuees.

Caritas Australia has allocated over 150,000 US dollars as initial support for the relief programme.

The finance manager for the Archdiocese, Sister Mary Claude, says their primary focus is on sustainability, assisting and encouraging the displaced people to become self-reliant again.

"Rations of rice and fish - that's all they get from us. However soon they will begin to start cutting down on the fish because they have been provided with nets and fishing lines and we have this project of retrieving their canoes from the main island. Extremely important that we move them along towards self reliance, self-sufficiency and so forth."

Sister Mary Claude says there are also other initiatives like the rental of a portable sawmill to allow the displaced people to cut timber to build new homes.