IsraAid sends team to Papua New Guinea landslide, its first emergency mission since Oct. 7

Israeli humanitarian response group sends 5-person team to country hit by landslide suspected of killing thousands

Israeli humanitarian response group IsraAid dispatched a five-person team from Israel to Papua New Guinea on Friday after the country was hit by a deadly landslide that destroyed entire villages and buried an estimated 2,000 people under rubble, the organization said. This was the first emergency aid delegation to be sent abroad since the Oct. 7 terror attacks.

“While we continue responding to the crisis at home and supporting displaced communities in Israel, we are proud to be dispatching an emergency response team to this devastating landslide in Papua New Guinea,” IsraAid CEO Yotam Polizer told eJewishPhilanthropy

“We remain committed to our mission of supporting disaster-affected communities wherever they are, however long it takes. Throughout this time, our global teams have continued their long-term humanitarian work in 11 countries around the world, and our emergency response team remains poised to respond to new emergencies as they arise,” Polizer said.

The landslide occurred on May 24 in the country’s Enga Province, covering over 100,000 square yards in debris. The still unstable ground has severely hampered rescue efforts as large mechanical excavators have been unable to safely reach and operate in the area, leaving much of the work left to rescue workers and villagers using hand tools. A dispute between local residents and a nearby gold mine has also complicated the situation. 

The landslide has displaced thousands of Papua New Guineans and damaged local sources of clean water, raising concerns of malnutrition and disease outbreaks. 

“IsraAid’s emergency response team — composed of experts in emergency aid, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene [WASH] and mental health — will conduct rapid needs assessment upon arrival and will tailor and adapt its response in collaboration with the partners,” the organization said in a statement. 

All five members of the team have, until now, been involved in the organization’s aid efforts within Israel following the Oct. 7 attacks. The team set out on Friday and arrived in the island nation, which is located just north of Australia, on Monday.

“As humanitarian aid workers, it’s our job to provide aid to disaster-affected communities. If there’s a significant crisis and we have added value to support, we’re proud to be able to do so despite difficulties at home,” Idan Markovich, IsraAid’s senior emergency programs officer, told eJP through a spokesperson.

“On a personal note, I see it as an additional sign of resilience that even though we are experiencing war, we are still professionals and we still have something to offer,” Markovich said.