17 March 2015
- Full scale of the devastation still unknown, but damage to crops, farming and water sources thought to be vast
- UK Government has donated £500,000 to the IFRC Emergency Appeal for Vanuatu; Tropical Cyclone Pam
- Red Cross teams were among the first on the scene with 200 volunteers from the Vanuatu Red Cross administering first aid and providing help in evacuation centres.
The UK Government has donated £500,000 towards the International Federation of the Red Cross appeal helping people in the South Pacific islands of Vanuatu, after the country was left devastated by Cyclone Pam.
The cyclone has left several people dead, displaced thousands and destroyed over 90% of homes in the country’s capital Port Villa. Recent reports from assessment teams on the ground have raised fears that more remote islands may have sustained even worse damage, and that survivors could soon run out of food and water.
Aurelia Balpe, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) for the Pacific, explains “Red Cross volunteers in Tanna (in the south) and Sola (in the north) have reported unprecedented damage to crops including banana, cassava, coconuts and vegetables.”
“Our experts on the ground predict the food situation will become critical within the next two weeks and are working with the government to establish how we can best support the outer islands.”
“Even before the cyclone, many people in Vanuatu did not have reliable access to safe water. The Red Cross will set up two water purification units on Tanna which will relieve some of the urgent need.”
“We are very grateful to the UK Government for their generous support of the appeal. The funds donated will increase our ability to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to thousands of people whose lives have been devastated by the cyclone, and help us support the population as they begin to rebuild their lives” Aurelia said.
Cyclone Pam has brought massive destruction to hundreds of South Pacific islands. The Red Cross was one of the first to respond to the disaster through their volunteer networks. Over 200 local volunteers were immediately mobilised, helping communities, including their own, whose lives have been shattered overnight.
Red Cross movement partners have been working closely together to support the islanders of Vanuatu - especially Red Cross Societies from neighbouring Australia and New Zealand.
The Red Cross is assisting at a total of 26 evacuation centres in Port Vila. The military has been tasked with clearing and repairing the roads, and the authorities are working to restore communication with provinces across the country.
The IFRC has launched an emergency appeal for £2.6million which it hopes will enable Red Cross teams to deliver vital assistance and support to over 60,000 people affected. The immediate priorities include; providing people with emergency shelter, water provision and purification kits, hygiene kits, emergency health services, as well as reuniting families who may have been separated during the disaster.
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Notes to editors
The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies. We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.