Vanuatu emergency: UN supports aid effort after cyclones, earthquake
New York: UN humanitarian coordinators have deployed to Vanuatu to help with the aid response, a week since back-to-back tropical cyclones and a 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit the Pacific island nation.
According to the Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office, more than 250,000 people have been affected, which is almost 80 per cent of the country’s population.
First Judy, then Kevin
Less than a week after Cyclone Judy forced residents to evacuate from the capital Port Vila, they were then hit by Cyclone Kevin, a category four storm that brought heavy rain and winds measured at over 230 kilometres an hour, or 142 miles per hour.
Vanuatu’s 13 islands were then hit by a 6.5 magnitude earthquake that struck 90 kilometres from the second largest city, Luganville.
A state of emergency was declared on 3 March.
Initial reports indicate that homes, livelihoods and power lines have been damaged, but impact assessments have been hindered by connectivity problems linked to the emergency.
The UN’s intervention comes at the request of the authorities in Vanuatu, confirmed aid coordination office, OCHA, which said on Thursday that eight staff have deployed to the capital, Port Vila, to support the Government-led response.
“This deployment follows an official letter from the Vanuatu Prime Minister, Hon. Alatoi Ishmael Kalsahau, welcoming support and assistance from the Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT), the regional coordination body of the international community, composed of humanitarian UN agencies, international NGOs and the Red Cross Movement”, said acting UN Resident Coordinator to Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu, Alpha Bah.
He added that UN teams would continue to follow the lead set by Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office, and the Government, “to ensure our support is aligned to their recovery priorities.”
The hardest hit areas established so far, were Shefa and Tafea, Penama, and Malampa, Northern and Western Penama Province, and Sanma and Torba Provinces, the UN team reported.