World Vision International
Press Release • Sunday, March 15th 2015

International community mobilises to support Vanuatu cyclone affected people

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World Vision specialists join response
 
Emergency shelter and logistics staff deployed by World Vision are among those due to arrive today (Monday) on the island of Vanuatu as part of an international mobilisation of aid workers to assist the cyclone hit nation.
 
They will be joining hard-pressed country-based team members who are struggling to respond to the needs of thousands of survivors following the hit by Cyclone Pam. The 270km per hour cyclone disrupted power, water, telecommunications and damaged buildings.
 
Tens of thousands of people have had their lives torn apart and the arrival of relief specialists will help backstop the beleaguered aid worker community on Vanuatu.
 
Specialists, including a World Vision disaster management expert, have already begun to arrive in Vanuatu. More World Vision staff are due to fly out on an Australian military flight on Monday. World Vision aid staff are also being mobilised out of New Zealand.
 
It is still unclear how many people might have been killed across the 82 islands of the Republic of Vanuatu (pop 267,000) following the cyclone strike early Saturday.
 
Communications remain cut off. Agencies like World Vision are struggling to account for their own staff. Only 14 of the agency’s 80 staff across the island archipelago have been located.
 
“We are deeply concerned about how communities, and especially children, have been impacted by this cyclone,” said country director Michael Wolfe. “The cyclone effectively hit all of the islands, many of which are remote, low lying and extremely vulnerable. Experience tells us that children are especially at risk to sea surges and the secondary impacts of a cyclone, including water source corruption by seawater, hunger following crop devastation and trauma – both physical and psychological.”
 
He said it could take many days to assess the islands both by air and boat and World Vision staff hoped to join assessments on Australian military flights in the coming days.
 
Initial surveys have been carried out in Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila area. Such was the extent of the devastation that aid agencies fear the worst for the other 81 islands where people chiefly live in thatched homes with few solid buildings to evacuate to.
 
Relief goods such as tarpaulins, tools for repairs, water containers, mosquito nets, hygiene kits, baby kits, and kitchen sets were already positioned on some of those islands by World Vision in readiness for such an emergency.
 
Within the Port Vila area 25 evacuation centres have been set up to house up to 10,000 people. Aid agencies will be providing services to these centres.  Over the coming days they will be working to coordinate their responses.  The assessments will provide agencies a much clearer idea of what is needed and where and will guide the supplies that are dispatched.  World Vision aid supplies based in Brisbane re also on standby to be flown in to Vanuatu once an air corridor has been established.
 
World Vision has already launched an appeal for donations in a number of the countries where it is based.