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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post Courier, May 9) – Member for Atolls Taehu Pais said yesterday the Autonomous Bougainville Government had given PGK94,000 [US$33,000] which was used to buy the rice to help feed the people.

Mr. Pais, who returned from a fact-finding mission to the atolls last month, confirmed that the islanders are suffering from food shortage and are in desperate need for relief supplies.

[PIR editor’s note: According to PIR news files, after the fact finding mission to Bougainville, the Papua New Guinea Atolls and Fisheries Minister revealed that a month of flooding and huge waves dried up or washed away food crops and gardens on Bougainville atolls. More than 5,000 people living on the atolls suffered famine and were at the mercy of government relief supplies.]

The atolls, which include the Carteret, Nuguria, Tasman and Mortlock islands, have for the last few months experienced a grave food shortage after food gardens were destroyed by rising tides due to strong winds.

Mr. Pais said the first shipment of the supplies was based on the old population census but said authorities were informed of the latest population figures of 6,124 to work around with.

He said the first shipment of the supplies will be sent to Nuguria and Carterets while the other atoll islands of Mortlock and Tasman will have to wait for the second shipment.

Nuguria and Carteret will receive the first shipment because the shortage of food in their area was far worse, he said.

Mr. Pais thanked the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the provincial administration for their prompt action and response to the matter.

"I am very happy by the way Autonomous Bougainville Government and the administration are handling the situation in the atolls despite being verbally informed about the issue," said Mr. Pais.

May 10, 2006

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