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Papua New Guinea Country Report

Country Risk Level

High

Overview

Executive Summary

Government stability will largely depend on the handling of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus outbreak. The number of confirmed cases in the capital Port Moresby rose rapidly in July but restrictions on movement, including forced business closures and curfews, lasted only two weeks. The number of confirmed cases is highly likely to be an underestimate because of low testing rates. The healthcare system has neither the capacity nor the resources to manage a potential large-scale response. If more cases are confirmed outside Port Moresby, then this would increase the likelihood that emergency measures will be re-imposed throughout the country.The extractives sector accounted for more than 10% of government revenue in 2018, and the administration of Prime Minister James Marape’s resource-nationalist policy agenda envisages maximising revenue for PNG stakeholders in mining and liquefied natural gas projects. Greater government control in resource projects is central to this policy, as reflected in amendments to the Mining Act and to the Oil and Gas Act passed in June 2020. However, with the collapse of oil and commodity prices in early 2020, the outlook for the country’s revenue projections has deteriorated. IHS Markit expects GDP growth to fall to -1.6% in 2020 – among the largest year-on-year contractions in PNG history.The landmark December 2019 Bougainville referendum indicated overwhelming support for independence, and will likely trigger several years of negotiations between the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the central government. A return to civil war is unlikely, despite the central government’s probable intent to frustrate Bougainville’s independence.Mines and commercial property related to the extractive industries face high risks of property damage from unrest over unpaid royalties to local landowners, particularly in the Southern Highlands, Hela, and Western Province. Large groups of protesters can cause significant damage to property, particularly through arson attacks.

Operational Outlook

Industrial action in PNG usually involves small-scale impromptu strikes in urban areas like Port Moresby and Lae, causing transportation disruption lasting no longer than one or two days. Larger strikes are usually triggered by political issues, such as the October 2018 national strike against the government of then-prime minister Peter O’Neill. Another issue likely to trigger industrial action is the employment of foreign workers. Although Prime Minister James Marape has pledge to establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), corruption issues at all levels of government are unlikely to improve significantly in the 12-month outlook.

Terrorism

International non-state armed groups or individuals are unlikely to target PNG because of the lack of accessible high-value targets such as international tourist hotspots or businesses. However, a failure to recognise Bougainville’s vote for independence in November 2019 would likely cause a deterioration in the regional security situation, including the emergence of armed anti-government groups. Members of armed separatist groups seeking independence for Indonesia’s West Papua province occasionally seek refuge on the PNG side of the border, although the likelihood of PNG being used as an operations base for foreign terrorist groups is low.

Crime

Crime rates are very high nationwide; Port Moresby and Lae are considered among the most violent cities in the world. Policing is poor and crime data are largely unavailable, but homicide, assault, and robberies are common in urban areas. Criminals often use illegal firearms and are likely to target Western visitors because of a perceived image of wealth. Security forces are at times complicit in criminal activities. Crime also has a substantial commercial impact on businesses. A 2014 World Bank report estimated that companies lose an average of USD33,000 a year in stolen property. Law and order is loosely enforced in rural areas.

War Risks

Interstate conflict is very unlikely, although low-intensity fighting between Indonesian military units and West Papuan insurgents occurs occasionally in border areas, sometimes forcing border shutdowns. Fighting between tribes in the Highlands region is a regular occurrence and cycles of violence between warring tribes can last for years, but there is little prospect of this fighting escalating into a broader conflict. An outbreak of civil war is unlikely, despite the November 2019 Bougainville referendum result indicating overwhelming support for independence and the central government’s probable intent to frustrate the separation process.

Social Stability

High

The risk of protests and riots will increase following the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, with looting and rioting likely in the near term due to frustrations over emergency restrictions. Strikes in the capital Port Moresby are rare and only last 1–2 days, but have the potential to cause city-wide disruption as was the case during the national boycott in October 2018. Violent unrest is likely in the Highlands region, where illegal small-arms are easily available. Mining and liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects face a high risk of disruption and property damage by locals demanding compensation for land use, with armed landowner groups willing to use violence.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and over one year of age.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Japanese Encephalitis: For stays of longer than one month in a rural zone during the rainy season (for children over the age of one). The vaccine is administered in a local medical facility.

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Practical Information

Climate

Papua New Guinea has a hot and humid climate, tempered by trade winds. It rains almost all year long with a respite from June to September (the dry season) and a peak of precipitation between December and March. Temperatures tend to be cooler in the mountains.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: 675
Police: 000
Fire Dept.: 000
Ambulance: 000

Electricity

Voltage: 240 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal