21 March 2015

Vanuatu appeals to the international community for assistance in the aftermath of cyclone Pam

The president of Vanuatu has appealed to the international community for assistance ‘on behalf of the government and people of Vanuatu to the global community to give a lending hand in responding to … [the] calamities that have struck us’. International aid agencies have also raised the appeal.

The cyclone affected over two-thirds of the island destroying crops, fishing fleets, and causing net-damage as great as 70-90 per cent in some villages. ‘People sheltered in school buildings. We were helping one another’ stated Ropate Vuso, a resident from the Tanna township. ‘We are running short of food, water, shelter and electricity. We have no communications, we are still waiting for the people … but still nobody is coming’, he said.

Leaders of other Pacific Island states have offered their support. In a speech at Sendai, Japan the president of Kiribati, Anote Tong reiterated the call for a global response stating that now was the time to act and ‘match the rhetoric of these international gatherings with pledges and commitments as leaders to do our best to improve conditions and lives of those who need it most’. The cyclone may be one of the region’s worst weather disasters with winds of more than 300km/h (185 miles per hour) experienced. ‘For a small nation like Vanuatu this is a huge disaster that requires an international response’, said Aurélia Balpe, regional head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

President Tong has linked the disaster to climate change stressing that ‘for leaders of low-lying island atolls, the hazards of global warming affect our people in different ways, and it is a catastrophe that impinges on our rights … and our survival into the future’. ‘There will be a time when the waters do not recede’, he stated.

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Source: AlJazeera | Vanuatu appeals for aid in wake of devastating cyclone
Source: The Guardian | Food concerns mount in Vanuatu after cyclone Pam
Source: The Guardian | Cyclone Pam: 24 confirmed dead as Vanuatu president blames climate change

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