Oxfam: Growing concern for Kiribati, Tuvalu and for Vanuatu’s outer islands

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MIL OSI – Source: Oxfam New Zealand – Growing concern for Kiribati, Tuvalu and for Vanuatu’s outer islands

As the death toll from Cyclone Pam begins to rise reports are now coming out of the small southern Vanuatu island of Tanna that there is almost no food or clean water and very little medical assistance for the 30,000 people who live there.

Tanna, which took the full force of the 250kmh Cyclone Pam, is one of the small outer islands of the Vanuatu archipelago which is extremely hard to reach with aid supplies because of logistical challenges.

Oxfam New Zealand’s Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier said the agency was deeply concerned for people on Tanna and other harder to reach outer islands. “Through Oxfam’s Livelihoods programme, and Water and Sanitation projects we work closely alongside communities across Vanuatu,

in particular on Tanna Island.  These islands have much less infrastructure than the capital of Port Vila and are extremely remote and hard to reach in the best of times”.

Oxfam Country Director in Port Vila, Colin Collett van Rooyen, said as Port Vila began the long clean up after Cyclone Pam there were grave concerns for people in the outer islands.

“It could take between three days to a week to reach people in these more remote communities and every day counts in a situation like this for people who are injured and without food and clean water.

A lack of enough clean water, temporary toilets, water purification tablets and hygiene kits in all areas damaged by the cyclone needed to be addressed rapidly’ he said.

Ms Le Mesurier also expressed concern for other nations hit by Cyclone Pam. “In particular we are concerned about the lack of information coming out of places such as Kiribati and Tuvalu”

“These nations are small and vulnerable and we fully expect that Cyclone Pam will have had significant impact. We are currently making contact with partners and other NGO’s on the ground to get a greater understanding of the need in these countries and how Oxfam can help”.

“We know that a state of emergency has been declared in Tuvalu, where the average land elevation is just 1m above sea level and where tidal storm surges caused by Cyclone Pam have washed away houses and crops”.

In addition, current reports suggest that flooding has resulted in toilet facilities becoming unusable, damage to essential rain water collection tanks, power black outs, and food becoming scarce.

We have even less information about Kiribati said Ms Le Mesurier. Kiribati is a remote island nation with few points that measure over 2m above sea level, with the impact of Cyclone Pam and the expected King tide later this week we are especially concerned”.

Oxfam New Zealand has launched a full scale appeal to help the many thousands of people affected by the devastating cyclone.   “Oxfam is committed to helping Vanuatu and other affected nations for as long as it takes,” said Ms Le Mesurier said.

Donate to Oxfam’s Cyclone Pam response

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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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