Equipped with emergency supply kits, two Oxfam rapid assessment teams have now arrived on a pair of islands in Vanuatu that were hit hardest when Cyclone Pam slammed into the South Pacific country last Friday.
The teams are undertaking short missions on Tanna and Erromango to gauge the needs on both islands, and are expected to report back within 24 hours. Nearly 30,000 people live on Tanna, which is one of the country’s outer islands about 124 miles south of Vanuatu’s capital of Port Vila. Erromango has a population of about 2,000 people.
“Each team took with them emergency supply kits for short-term assistance including medical supplies, water and sanitation supplies, food and shelter related supplies,” said Colin Collett van Rooyen, Oxfam’s country director based in the capital. “Some of the medical personnel within those rapid assessment teams, some of whom are from Tanna originally, will remain there in the short term until more help arrives.”
The UN is reporting that the storm, which hit the island chain with winds up to 155 miles per hour, killed 24 people and displaced about 3,300 others.
Oxfam remains deeply concerned about communities on the hard-to-reach outer islands.
“Getting to these islands in the best of times can be a challenge but getting to them now is very very difficult,” said Collett van Rooyen. “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."
Oxfam has been working with the National Disaster Management Office and other NGOs since before the storm hit. We are planning to increase our water, sanitation and hygiene programs to minimize the risk of disease outbreaks.
We have been active in Vanuatu since 1989, with our work focusing on youth empowerment, the rights of women and girls, support and training for small-scale farmers, and helping communities prepare for disasters and build their resilience.
Please donate to the Cyclone Pam Relief and Recovery Fund today to rush emergency aid to the region.