AITAPE FOOD BILL HITS K1 MILLION

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By Ben Taumai

Care centers urgently need relief funds. TIDAL wave survivors living in care centers in Aitape face starvation because of mounting bills.

AITAPE, Papua New Guinea (September 18, 1998 - Post-Courier)---The bills owed to the suppliers by the Aitape Disaster Office are said to be more than K 1 million ($US 445,018).

As a result, the district administration is looking at alternatives to get food to feed more than 10,000 people in the care centers. The care centers are located at Ramo, Pou Raibrum, Rowoi, Olbrum, and Malol.

The bad news was relayed by Aitape district administrator Melchior Kalit yesterday in a meeting attended by all program managers, camp managers, and Catholic Church store manager Pat Gaines.

Mr. Kalit said W. & R. Parer stopped supplying fuel and other rations last Monday. Other suppliers in Wewak have followed suit.

Authorities in Aitape fear if nothing is done quickly by the end of this week all those people at the care centers will go hungry.

Relief coordinators in Aitape are calling for all money donations received in the name of Aitape relief to be sent to the Aitape Trust Fund account. In the meeting, concerns were raised about where all the money was, who had it and how it would be used.

"These people in the care centers may starve to death if nothing is forthcoming by the end of this week," Mr. Kalit said.

Aitape disaster coordinator Dickson Dalle said that they have K 200,000 ($US 89,000) in their account but it is not sufficient to feed all the people in the care centers for a week.

"You need at least K 300,000 ($US 133,500)," according to Mr. Pat Gaines. Mr. Gaines also said that they were running low on rations.

He said they have enough to last them a week and if nothing is done quickly to remedy the situation then they will have to reduce the quantity of rations to the centers. This sentiment was shared by the government authorities.

Because of the cost factor, both the Catholic and the district authorities are now thinking of reducing the supply of rice and concentrating only on proteins, and helping people to make sago. They have all agreed to purchase pipes for water to make sago. Apart from the food rations, fuel is the next big headache.

A fuel shortage has prevented the use of trucks and helicopters, thus hampering government officers from visiting care centers.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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