Vanuatu Red Cross responds to Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam

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Source: Red Cross Red Crescent – Vanuatu Red Cross responds to Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam

Suva, March 14 – Vanuatu residents endured a harrowing night as Category 5, Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam,  slammed into Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. The Red Cross is currently carrying out preliminary assessments in Port Vila and other affected areas, while mobilising its teams to respond.

“The humanitarian needs are enormous,” says Augustine Garae, head of disaster management for the Vanuatu Red Cross as surveyed the scene in Port Vila. “We know there has been widespread destruction and many people have lost their homes.”

Shelter, water, food and first aid are urgent priorities and the Red Cross is working closely with local authorities and other actors to support the government-led response. In collaboration with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), the Vanuatu Red Cross is contacting its branches and volunteers to gather information on impact and in preparation for assessment and distributions. The Vanuatu Red Cross has 200 active volunteers who are being mobilized and another 200 volunteers on standby.

Thousands of people have been seeking safety in safe buildings and evacuations centres. In Erromango Island and other areas of Vanuatu, people have also used traditional methods of protection, sheltering in caves.

“Communication is down in much of the country but we are doing everything possible to help those in need,” says Aurélia Balpe, head of delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Pacific.

“Tens of thousands of people are still in the middle of a terrifying ordeal and we need to urgently assess the humanitarian needs and start meeting them as soon as possible”.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has made an allocation of 133,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the relief efforts of the Vanuatu Red Cross Society. For updates refer to www.ifrc.org

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues.
Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia’s FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand’s The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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