While awaiting resettlement the people of Manam have been living in temporary care centres. It looks like they'll be there for some time yet because the organisation created to find them a new home seems to have disappeared.
Presenter: Liam Fox, PNG correspondent
Speaker: Paul Muriki from the Manam Peoples Association; Lawrence Kodaka, president of the Manam local level government; Teacher Konjen Amo; Madang Governor Sir Arnol Amet
LIAM FOX: Peter Irakau is trying to dig through the rocks that cover Manam Island to plant a banana shoot. It's the only crop that will grow on the island and the trees won't fruit for another nine months. He cuts open a locally-grown cassava to reveal its rotten flesh.
PAUL MURIKI: This is bad. This isn't fit for human consumption. You might think it's good because of it's size but it's rotten inside. This cassava is what we're eating and it's fast running out.
LIAM FOX: Mr Irakau is one of two thousand islanders recently sent back to Manam by the provincial government. Five years ago the volcano that towers over the island erupted covering villages with tonnes of ash and rock. Fifteen-thousand people fled to the mainland where they were settled in so-called care centres on plantations. But what was supposed to be a temporary measure has dragged on.
Lawrence Kodaka, the president of the Manam local level government, lives in one of the centres and says conditions are poor.
LAWRENCE KODAKA: We have so many problems. We have land problems, we have school fee problems, we have water and sanitation problems, we have shelter problems. The very important thing now is we need permanent resettlement".
LIAM FOX: The ongoing presence of the islanders is a source of tension with the locals which regularly flares into violence. Four islanders were recently murdered and several houses burnt.
Teacher Konjen Amo says the violence will only get worse until they're permanently resettled elsewhere.
KONJEN AMO: The local people are starting to react and we don't blame them because we are imposing, the Manam people are imposing themselves on these people , which they have nothing to do with us, we are the government's problem not their problem."
LIAM FOX: After the latest violence the provincial government sent two thousand people back to Manam even though it had not been declared safe.
The Madang Governor Sir Arnol Amet admits it was hasty decision.
ARNOL AMET: The administration made the decision without the proper consideration.
LIAM FOX: But as for a permanent solution he says the issue has been lost between the different levels of government.
ARNOL AMET: Unfortunatley Manam's in between the national government and the provincial government in terms of responsibility.
LIAM FOX: In 2006 the PNG government established the Manam Resettlement Authority to find the islanders a permanent home. But as far as the ABC can tell the Authority doesn't have an office or a telephone number. The PNG Government says it hasn't heard from the Authority since August last year.
Paul Muriki from the Manam Peoples Association in Port Moresby wants to know where the money has gone.
PAUL MURIKI: We know the government has spent eight-million kina so far. The people on the ground, the settlers, haven't seen anything tangible.