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NEWS | Aug. 11, 2023

The United States Provides Immediate Emergency Assistance to Support Communities Affected by Mount Bagana Volcanic Eruptions

United States Agency for International Development

The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing immediate emergency assistance to support communities affected by volcanic eruptions at Mount Bagana in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ARoB).

At the request of the Government of Papua New Guinea, in consultation with the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), USAID is providing $200,000 to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide emergency shelter kits and other relief commodities, protection assistance for women and children, and logistical support to deliver essential relief items and other critical relief services based on assessed needs, as ongoing volcanic activity continues to restrict people’s access to food and water and families from returning home. To date, IOM has provided the ABG with four water tanks and 127 collapsible water containers—prepositioned through existing USAID support—to improve access to drinkable water, and deployed a public health specialist to conduct health assessments.

To help transport this life-saving emergency assistance to hard-to-reach locations, the U.S. Department of Defense, upon the request of USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, has assigned personnel aboard USS America to help deliver critical relief supplies to these remote locations. Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) will support USAID emergency assistance efforts providing transport via 31st MEU medium and heavy lift rotary wing and tiltrotor aviation platforms. The unique transportation and logistics capabilities provided by the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps team includes MV-22 Ospreys, CH-53E Super Stallions, and SH-60 Seahawks. This specialized unit and their state-of-the-art equipment will allow for the delivery of immediate and much needed emergency assistance to those affected by the volcano.

Since July 7, 2023, volcanic activity from Papua New Guinea’s Mount Bagana volcano resulted in eruptions including ashfall, gas, lava flows, and steam plumes. The volcano has adversely affected more than 6,300 people living in Torokina and Wakunai districts and could impact up to 17,000 people total living near the volcano’s crater, according to the ABG and the humanitarian organization CARE.

Joseph E. Zadrozny, Chargé d’Affaires of U.S. Embassy Port Moresby, said “The United States stands with the people of Papua New Guinea as demonstrated by our contributions to the disaster relief effort in response to the request of the Papua New Guinea government.”

This emergency funding is in addition to long-standing USAID investments in disaster risk reduction programs in Papua New Guinea and across the Pacific that are active year-round. Since 2013, USAID has supported IOM to strengthen community-based disaster risk management planning, disaster preparedness planning, and safe shelter support.

For more than 37 years, USAID has supported the U.S. Geological Survey’s Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) in hazard assessment training, early warning system development, and volcano monitoring equipment installation. In 2022, VDAP donated eight Global Position Systems to the Rabaul Volcano Observatory and assisted in modernizing their monitoring network for several active volcanoes across Papua New Guinea.

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