Vanuatu’s president has pleaded with the world to help the cyclone-torn nation to rebuild.
An emotional President Baldwin Lonsdale told the AFP yesterday (16/3) “The humanitarian need is immediate, we need it right now,” adding that the poverty-stricken chain of islands also desperately needs both financial and health support.
“After all the development we have done for the last couple of years and this big cyclone came and just destroyed… all the infrastructure the government has… built. Completely destroyed.
“We need international funding to (re)build all the infrastructure.”
The official death toll in Vanuatu’s Port Vila, where up to 90% of houses are destroyed, stands at 6 with more than 30 injured, although there are fears this is likely a fraction of the fatalities caused by the storm. Overall, there have been 24 confirmed deaths “..eleven from Tafea, eight from Efate and five from Tanna,” the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Monday in a situation report.
Tens of thousands have been left at risk with more than 3000 villagers in evacuation centres, many needing urgent health and medical support.
Australia has donated a $5 million aid package to the nation, which was declared a state of emergency.
It’s expected that more than 50,000 children have been left at risk, prompting responses from Save the Children and Unicef.
How you can help
Aid agencies such as UNICEF and Oxfam say millions of dollars are needed to immediately provide clean water and personal hygiene supplies.
Some of those organizations are making public calls for funds to cope with the devastation.
Global News has compiled a list of aid agencies working to provide relief in Vanuatu. Here’s how you can help and where your contributions go.
Oxfam Australia has three tiers of suggested donations for those who wish to contribute to the relief efforts in Vanuatu: AUD $50, $60 and $104 (CDN $48.85, $58.64 and $101.62).
The first tier would provide supplies to cope in the immediate aftermath of the storm, including tarpaulin, water containers, soap and other sanitary goods. The next level is enough money to set up a toilet for 20 people in an affected area. The third amount pays for a four-month food survival package for a family of six.
Oxfam Australia said any money raised above what is “required to meet the immediate and longer term needs of the people in affected areas” will go to its International Crisis Fund to address other emergency relief situations.
The United Nations Children’s Fund needs $2.7 million to deal with the “immediate humanitarian needs of children and families.”
“Lifeline infrastructure such as hospitals, electricity and water supply and telecommunications are severely damaged and will require rebuilding,” the relief agency said. “Safe water supplies and distribution has been destroyed for many. This increases the risk of water-borne diseases.
While the most urgent supplies UNICEF staff in Vanuatu need to provide include water purification tablets, water containers, soap and sanitation facilities, it also requires vaccinations to prevent the spread of measles.
“Measles is persistent in Vanuatu, so vaccines are required along with temporary clinics and medical equipment.”
UNICEF New Zealand also has three tiers of suggested donations:
- $40, which is enough to provide measles vaccinations to 100 children.
- $60, an amount that can buy 10,000 tablets to purify water for three families for one week.
- $100, to provide clean water kits to 10 families.
The Canadian Red Cross is also collecting donations for its Cyclone Pam Relief Fund.
“The force of this storm has been truly devastating for thousands of people in the region,” Hossam Elsharkawi, Director of International Emergencies and Recovery for the Canadian Red Cross, said on the organization’s website. “Shelter, water and health are urgent priorities and we continue to work with local authorities to make sure that people get the help they need.”
The Red Cross is providing to both Vanuatu and the island nation of Tuvalu, about 1,550 kilometres northeast of Port Vila, where it has already provided 100 blankets and 100 tarpaulins in the capital Funafuti.
U.K.-based ShelterBox is an organization that delivers containers packed with supplies to set up a temporary home for the survivors of disasters.
Their boxes contain a family-sized tent, blankets, ground sheets, solar lamps, cooking utensils, mosquito nets, a basic tool kit, water purification supplies and a children’s activity pack. The contents of the boxes vary depending on the conditions in an affected area.
“Sometimes our aid is not packed in boxes but sent in bulk. It is essential that we always support the needs of those who have survived disasters and this can vary enormously based on the type and scale of a disaster,” ShelterBox explained on its website.
The organization is teaming up with CARE International to send 1,000 of these kits to Vanuatu.
World Vision has also made a public call for donations to send its relief supply kits to hard-hit areas of Vanuatu.
- Shelter kits made up of tarpaulins, hammers, nails, saws, ropes and shovels.
- Kitchen sets with cooking pots, plates, cutlery and cups.
- Hygiene kits that contain toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, women’s sanitary items, candles, waterproof matches, a sewing kit, a bucket and soap.
“World Vision is distributing prepositioned relief supplies on the island, such as shelter kits, hygiene kits and kitchen sets, and further distributions are planned in the coming days,” a statement on the organization’s website read.
You can lend a hand by visiting the following links and donating to the disaster relief effort in Vanuatu:
- Red Cross Australia/ New Zealand
- UNICEF Australia/New Zealand
- Oxfam Australia/New Zealand
- TEAR Fund
- CARE USA
- World Vision
- Save the Children
- Act for Peace