IFRC launches emergency appeal of 3.9 million Swiss francs in response to Tropical Cyclone Pam

Published: 17 March 2015

Geneva / Suva, 17 March 2015 - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal for 3.9 million Swiss francs (USD 3.88 million) to support 60,000 people affected by Tropical Cyclone Pam which has devastated much of  Vanuatu.

One of the worst cyclones to affect the Pacific in recent history, Cyclone Pam left massive humanitarian needs across inhabited islands of Vanuatu. The majority of the country’s six provinces remain flooded and inaccessible, and communication is intermittent across the affected area.

Reports from Port Vila and Tanna show massive destruction, uprooted trees and lands entirely stripped of foliage. No corrugated iron structures remain standing. According to government estimates 130,000 people have been affected out of a population of 277,000.

“We are extremely concerned for the safety and well-being of many communities affected by the cyclone, particularly in the more remote regions of the country that are only accessible by boat,” says Aurélia Balpe, IFRC head of delegation in the Pacific. “For a small nation like Vanuatu this is a huge disaster that requires an international response”.

As soon as the cyclone struck, the IFRC released funds from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support initial needs assessments and relief activities. The Red Cross had some pre-positioned relief supplies available in Vanuatu and in nearby island nations which are now being deployed. These include blankets, tarpaulins, water purification systems and kitchen sets. The emergency appeal will help to provide immediate relief and longer term support to help affected communities in their recovery.

“After such a major disaster, communities must have the basics such as clean water, emergency shelter, health care and adequate sanitation,” says Jagan Chapagain, IFRC’s Director for Asia Pacific. “This appeal will help ensure we can meet those needs”. 

The Vanuatu Red Cross is coordinating relief efforts with the government and assessments are being undertaken that will capture the full extent of damages and the humanitarian needs.

Additional support from the Australian, Fiji, French, New Zealand and Tonga Red Cross National Societies is being provided in the form of emergency relief items and the deployment of technical experts in communications, health, and shelter.

According to Red Cross teams already on the ground, logistical challenges could delay not only the assessments, but delivery of humanitarian assistance to affected communities.

“We will need all the help we can get in the coming weeks and months and we need it urgently,” says Jacqueline de Gaillande, CEO of the Vanuatu Red Cross. “People are desperate for water, food and safe shelter and time is of the essence”.

To access the appeal click here and the appeals section of IFRC is available here

For updates on the IFRC response to Cyclone Pam refer to www.ifrc.org


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