23 March, 2018, 12:00 am
PORT MORESBY – A month after a deadly magnitude-7.5 earthquake struck Papua New Guinea’s Highlands, aid workers have warned that an entire “generation” of children may miss out on a proper education.
The powerful February 26 earthquake and the aftershocks that followed have killed at least 125 people, and some of the region’s most remote areas are still cut off from assistance.
Tremors have continued since the quake, causing distress for already grief-stricken families, while heavy rain and landslides have lashed the area.
“We also met a woman who had lost her entire family, her husband and seven kids, right before her eyes when there was a landslide and it swallowed up her entire family and she was so traumatised.”
In Hela province, the damage to homes and infrastructure has been so bad early indications suggest schools will not be able to re-open at all this year. While children aren’t at school, many are living in cramped, makeshift care centres, where men, women and children share basic facilities.
Noreen Chambers said one of the schools she visited was only having half-day classes because the boys toilets had collapsed.
She said even in the town, children were frightened to stay in school for long periods of time.
Save the Children’s Jennifer El-Sibai said in addition to aid, a focus on the children’s futures was essential.