100 days on from Cyclone Winston - Red Cross calls for more support to help thousands in need

Published: 26 May 2016
Red Cross volunteers are doing a sweep of villages affected by Cyclone Winston, helping communities to clean up the debris and rubbish. Photo Credit: Fiji Red Cross Society

Suva - 26 May 2016: Since Cyclone Winston made landfall in Fiji on February 20th, the Fiji  Red Cross has been able to reach 63,000 people with emergency relief, but much more still needs to be done to help thousands of survivors in need.

The category 5 cyclone killed 44 people and affected 350,000 - almost half Fiji’s population. 32,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and many of those affected are struggling to recover. Immediately after the cyclone the Fiji Red Cross began a major relief operation with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Kathryn Clarkson, Head of IFRC’s Pacific office in Suva, says the seven million Swiss Franc international appeal (Euro 6.4 million, USD 7 million) launched by the IFRC aims to help the recovery of 50,000 people over a one-year period,  but funding shortfalls could restrict the operation.

“Our appeal is only 55 per cent covered, so we are asking international donors to continue to support us and enable Fiji Red Cross to reach many people who are still living in dire conditions,” she said.

In the last 100 days, Fiji Red Cross has provided people in the worst hit areas of the country with relief items including tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets and family packs and has given psychosocial support to more than 550 people.   

“We have been able to make a big difference to the lives of many. Our focus has not only been on meeting people’s material needs but also on helping them to overcome their emotional distress”, said Filipe Nainoca, Director General of Fiji Red Cross. “But in many places the needs that we found at the start are still there. Shelter is the main issue. People who’ve lost their homes are still in tents or temporary shelters.”

The IFRC is supporting the Fiji Red Cross recovery plan which will focus on shelter, water and sanitation, health education and disease prevention, support to livelihoods and projects focused on community preparedness and disaster risk reduction.

Living through the cyclone had a significant psychological impact on many people, particularly children.

“We still have reports of children diving under tables when there’s a thunderstorm, or being afraid to go out and play, and that’s not just in the affected communities - that’s in Suva as well,” said Filipe Nainoca. “Psychosocial support - helping communities overcome the emotional trauma they have experienced - is a very important part of what we are doing to restore a sense of normality in people’s lives.”

For interviews and further information please contact:

In Fiji:

  • Corinne Ambler – Communications Delegate, IFRC, Suva Office | Mobile: +679 998 0166 | Email: corinne.ambler@ifrc.org | Twitter: @corinneambler
  • Navinesh Kumar, Communications & Advocacy Manager, IFRC Suva Office | Mobile: +679 999 1226 | Email: Navinesh.kumar@ifrc.org | Twitter: @NavinKumarRam

In Kuala Lumpur:

  • Patrick Fuller, communications manager, Asia Pacific, IFRC | Mobile : +60 122 308 451 | E-mail : patrick.fuller@ifrc.org | Twitter : @pat_fuller

In Geneva

  • Benoit Carpentier, IFRC team leader, public communications | Mobile: +41792132413 | E-mail: Benoit.Carpentier@ifrc.org  Twitter: @BenoistC

 For updates on Twitter follow @IFRCAsiaPacific #TCWinston #CycloneWinston