Postcards from Hell – How Dangerous is Port Moresby

Dangerous is Port Moresby

As a western ally Papua New Guinea is not a country we hear all that much about. In fact tiny neighbour’s the Solomon Islands have since become more renowned due to their ties with China. And the reason we hear nothing? This country, cantered around its corrupt capital are quickly descending into anarchy.

To read about why PNG is such a mess click here.

How dangerous is Port Moresby?

Often touted as the “most dangerous city in the world”, danger like beauty is often in the eye of the beholder. If we go by pure murder rates then POM as the locals call it is not so near the top as you’d expect, with South American drug cities ending to top the list.

It is though without doubt one of the most dangerous capital cities on earth, the most dangerous in Oceania, the most dangerous in Asia, aside from active war zones and most scarily by far the rape capital of the world.

And while we can use many metrics, it easily makes the top ten worst cities for travelers and indeed easily rests within the most dangerous capital cities on earth..

Danger Perceptions of Port Moresby

According to statistics website Numbeo, who measure travelers perceptions of a city, POM scores a high 80.9 on the danger index and a mere 19.11 on the safety index. For context, on every question about safety asked, more than 70 percent of people were worried. This ranged from a low of 71.49 percent of people being worried about being subject to a race crime, with a high of 87.5 percent being scared of acts of arbitrary corruption.

Conversely a pitiful 16.47 percent of people felt safe going out at night, by far one of the lowest rates of any capital city on earth, save perhaps Mogadishu.

Crime rates in Port Moresby

Perceived crimes are of course one thing, but what are the actual crime rates in Port Moresby and Papua New Guinea? Sadly both of these rates largely involve guess work, for as I can personally attest many crimes are simply not reported, or even if they are the Papua New Guinea police, or security services simply do not respond or report them. If a crime on a foreigner does not result in at least a stabling, or a murder for a local, then the PNG police will likely not even return your call, let alone record it happened.

Enough research has been done though to give us the firm knowledge that Port Moresby is far and way the most dangerous city in the world for women. It is estimated that up to 70 percent of residents have, or scarily will be raped or sexually abused in their lifetimes.

From a practical point of view foreigners can see it first hand, with all hotels even at the lower end being surrounded by barbed wire fences and even trips of a few minutes “outside” being warned against – and for good reason.

I personally ventured to a restaurant not 3 minutes from my compound and was mugged by men armed with a knife and seemingly happy to use it. And while I was not injured, nor did I lose too much it still acted as a ark reminder about the reality of life here.The police of course not only did not come to see me, but would not even take my calls. Luckily for me I get to go on a plane, yet for the poverty ridden locals, they simply have to ride things out.

Why is Port Moresby so dangerous?

So as to how dangerous is Port Moresby and why it is so dangerous, we need to look at different factors. How dangerous Port Moresby is depends on who you are and where you are. Much like in other parts of the country when you are in a rural setting things tend to be ok, but it is where poverty is rife that crime becomes endemic.

And much like anywhere in the world where there is danger, poverty is the leading cause of this. It is estimated that Port Moresby, the seat of government of PNG has an unemployment rate of up to 80 percent, as well as enormous income inequality.

One PNG friend, who lives in Port Moresby put it this was “There’s no roads to POM, so people in the tribes save money to fly their sons to the capital. They find no jobs, so end in the Rascals (the local gangs). Their own way of survival is loyalty to the gangs and thus crime. Sadly life means very little here”.

The Rascals, who themselves should get their own article are thus pitted in an ongoing fight with an underfunded and itself corrupt police force, which is controlled by the corrupt government. This makes it less a war and more a fact of cohabitation, with the losers not being the few tourists that fly through, but the genuinely nice and subjugated people of Papua New Guinea.

Why do people not know how dangerous is Port Moresby?

When it comes to how dangerous Port Moresby is and the sheer terror its citizens go through you’d expect this to be international news, or with the “close” relations of PNG something we’d help fight, but alas no.

Sadly the western relationship with PNG, or rather that or Australia (our local enforcer) and PNG is that of realpolitik, and a parent and client state.

On the face of it Papua New Guinea is a free and fair democracy with press freedom. Ignoring the reality that millions are affected by crime and corruption and that every election is not only based around tribalism, but results in the deaths of thousands.

The official line from Australia is that it sends million on aid, with it’s NGO’s singing “kumbaya” and trying and failing to impose western values, while the common man simply worries about his next meal.

To read about NGO’s click here

Instead Realpolitik dictates that the PNG was not only a steadfast ally against communism, but has been a loyal vassal state since independence in 1975. This has included throwing their brothers in West Papua and most recently taking a western stand against the Solomon Islands and their friendship with China .

Of course all the while relying on their big brothers Australia for their imports, as well as granting them almost exclusivity in mining rights to the country, another fact worthy of it sown story.

And this is the crux of it, while Papua New Guinea tows the line during Cold War 2.0 it can do exactly as it wishes, no matter how much descends into a failed state, no matter how dangerous Port Moresby become and of course how much the working classes of the country suffer tyranny.