Vanuatu: Red Cross delivers aid while reports confirm large-scale damage across the island nation

Published: 15 March 2015

Suva/ Bangkok/ Geneva, 15 March 2015 – Reports today confirm that Cyclone Pam, which slammed into Vanuatu on 13 March, has left immense devastation in its path, rendering thousands in need of shelter, food, and water. Over 100 Red Cross staff and volunteers are working relentlessly to distribute aid and provide critical health care. A total of 40 volunteers are in Port Vila working alongside the authorities to assist in the 26 evacuation centres.

“Homes have been lost, crops are destroyed. The damage is enormous, and people need our help,” said Aurélia Balpe, head of delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Pacific. “Yet it will still take some time before we really understand the full extent of the damage”, she warns.

The Vanuatu Red Cross made a breakthrough in communication by connecting with the Torres Islands and the southern Island of Tanna – where Cyclone Pam made its first landfall. While the Torres Islands were spared the worst according to Red Cross volunteer, Benjamin Brown, Tanna was not as fortunate.

“The island is simply flattened. Schools and concrete home across Tanna are destroyed,” said Peter Lawther, a Red Cross shelter specialist. “Shelter, along with water and food, remain a top priority. We are working on getting help here as quickly as possible.”

The Red Cross is coordinating with authorities and other agencies to distribute hygiene kits, tarpaulins, blankets, water containers, shelter kits, sleeping mats, kitchen sets, buckets and aqua tabs that arrived on 15 March. Additional relief items are expected in the early morning of 16 March from Australia and New Zealand. The Red Cross is also deploying health workers, disaster specialists, and water and sanitation experts across Vanuatu and the wider region.

“The Red Cross has a strong global network, and we have a lot of experience in responding to disasters such as Cyclone Pam,” says Balpe. “As always, we will do our best to meet the needs of everyone affected. We may not know everything now, but we will prepare for the worst”. For updates refer to

For media inquiries or to arrange for interviews, please contact:

 In Suva                 

Aurélia Balpe                                                                

Mob: +679 999 2485 Tel: +679 3311855                                         

Email: Twitter: @aureliabalpe

In Vanuatu

Jacqueline de Gaillande

Mob: +6787743029 Tel: +679 7747847                                       


In Bangkok

Kate Roux, IFRC regional communications delegate

Mob: +66 81 376 5107

Email: Twitter: @katherineroux

In Geneva

Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, IFRC team leader, public communications and outreach

Mob: +41 79 213 24 13

Email: Twitter:@BenoistC