06 Dec Escaping Zaria’s fire? The volcano resettlement problem of Manam Island, Papua New Guinea
Escaping Zaria’s fire? The volcano resettlement problem of Manam Island, Papua New Guinea
Asia Pacific Viewpoint
Most resettlement in the Pacific, whether for political, economic or environmental reasons, has been in some respects unsuccessful, often resulting in land disputes, social conflicts, marginalisation, impoverishment and return migration. Resettlement after volcanic eruption poses particular problems because of necessary immediacy, temporal uncertainty over the duration of the displacement and the wish of most of those displaced to return, when possible. The eruption of the Manam Island volcano in 2004–2005 displaced over 9000 people to the nearby mainland. Successful resettlement, one of the largest necessitated in the Pacific region, has proved difficult, resulting in land disputes, violence, disease and inertia, as a consequence of 10 years of government inability to achieve a permanent resettlement plan or enact a plan. Despite formal opposition, and intermittent volcanicity, many Manams have chosen to return to the island. The Manam Islanders’ experience provides a warning about the complex challenges inherent in population resettlement in only subtly different cultural, geographical and political contexts.