Country team to distribute relief supplies, international experts have arrived to support response.
Three days after Cyclone Pam devastated the island state of Vanuatu, many remote communities remain isolated and cut off from communications. ‘We are extremely concerned about the Southern Islands of Erromango, Tanna, Aniwa and Futuna as these were directly hit by Cyclone Pam and people had limited protection from the storm. Yet we do not have a full picture of the impact,’ says Charlie Damon, Program Manager for CARE International in Vanuatu, from the capital Port Vila.
Based on initial assessments, CARE estimates that 85 percent of all houses in Port Vila are destroyed. There is no electricity in many areas. Health support is now of utmost importance as the central hospital has no power and is partly damaged. The majority of the population is staying at evacuation centres, but there are no sufficient sanitation facilities; toilets and soap are urgently needed.
Together with partners, CARE will start to distribute hygiene kits tailored to women and men’s needs in evacuation centres of Port Vila as soon as we’re able.
‘The destruction in the capital is enormous. I can’t even begin to imagine how it must look like on the outer islands’, Damon continues. ‘It is now our priority to reach the remote islands of Tafea province, where we have been working before the cyclone, and to support people with water, sanitation, shelter and food’, says Damon.
CARE is the only aid organisation operating in the island province of Tafea and the humanitarian needs are likely to be immense.
Two CARE Australia staff arrived in Port Vila yesterday to support CARE’s emergency response, and more humanitarian experts will follow in the coming days.
Another smaller cyclone is currently building off the far north coast of Queensland, Australia, and could potentially hit Vanuatu on Wednesday.
To donate to the Cyclone Pam response, visit www.care.org.au/pam, call 1800 DONATE (1800 020 046) or SMS PAM to 0455 020 020
CARE Australia has worked in Vanuatu since 2008, focusing on building resilience to disasters and climate change shocks, and increasing women and girls’ involvement in community leadership.