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Australia to boost aid to Papua New Guinea for landslide recovery

In this photo released by IOM- PNG, Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Richard Maples meets locals at the scene of the landslide at Yambali village in the Papua New Guinea   -  
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David Kuna/AP

Papua New Guinea

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles gave assurances to displaced people in Papua New Guinea on Thursday that Australia will provide help after the area was affected by a major landslide last month.

Marles and Wong, with other senior government officials are currently in PNG for a ministerial forum, the most significant such bilateral gathering for Australia amongst the South Pacific island nations.

"I look around here and I see sadness and I am so sorry for your loss. But I also see hope, I also see hope," Wong said, speaking to a group of displaced people.

The Australian Government announced Thursday it will provide a further two million Australian dollars ($1.3 million) to support reconstruction efforts in the region.

The support comes as PNG continues to grapple with the aftermath of the disaster in the remote Enga province, which the United Nations estimates killed 670 villagers and immediately displaced 1,650 survivors.

Papua New Guinea’s government has told the United Nations it thinks more than 2,000 people were buried.

Thursday's announcement builds on Australia’s initial assistance of $2.5 million for emergency supplies, support for humanitarian partners and the deployment of technical experts including a Disaster Assistance Response Team in the days after the landslide on May 24.

Already this year, PNG has been beset by deadly riots in its two largest cities, Port Moresby and Lae, while long-running tribal feuds led to at least 26 men being killed in an ambush in February, as well as a clash between two rival clans that killed eight last month.

PNG has a population of nearly 10 million people and is the most populous Pacific Island nation.

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