WATCH: Three days after Cyclone Pam swept through Vanuatu the true horror of its destruction is only now, becoming clear. Mike Drolet reports.
The full extent of the damage to the island nation of Vanuatu is still being assessed, but the destruction caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam has been called “catastrophic.”
Relief organizations from Australia and New Zealand arrived in Port Vila, the capital of the South Pacific archipelago, on Sunday.
The Category 5 storm pummeled Vanuatu on Saturday with 270 km/h sustained winds — the strongest storm to hit land since Typhoon Haiyan devastated parts of the Philippines in 2013.
“After all the development that has taken place, all this development has been wiped out,” Vanuatu’s president, Baldwin Lonsdale, said Monday. “It is a setback for the government and for the people of Vanuatu.”
He made the comments at a United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan.
Early estimates suggest as many as 90 per cent of the country’s structures may have been damaged or destroyed during Pam’s onslaught, according to UNICEF.
“It is estimated that half the population of Vanuatu have been affected (132,000) and at least 54,000 of these are children,” UNICEF wrote on its website.
And, there are fears that 100,000 people may have been left homeless. Outside the capital, on some of Vanuatu’s 65 inhabited islands, most people live in homes made of organic or flimsy materials.
At least 24 people have been confirmed dead, although communication is still cut off in some outlying islands.
The Australian government has already offered approximately $4.9 million in emergency aid, New Zealand’s government $2.3 million and the British government about $3.8 million.
Global News contacted the Dept. of Foreign Affairs, Development and Trade about what assistance the Canadian government may be providing.
Foreign Affairs spokesperson Caitlin Workman said the government made a $20,000 “initial contribution towards a Disaster Response Emergency Fund” that was established by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
“Canada continues to actively monitor the situation in coordination with international and Canadian humanitarian partners,” Workman said in an email to Global News. “Once needs assessments are completed, we will determine whether additional Canadian support is warranted to ensure that the needs of the affected population are met.”
She also told Global News the Canadian government is aware of at least 29 Canadian citizens “who were potentially affected by Cyclone Pam” in Vanuatu.
Aid agencies such as UNICEF and Oxfam say millions of dollars are needed to immediately provide clean water and personal hygiene supplies.
Some of those organizations are making public calls for funds to cope with the devastation.
Global News has compiled a list of aid agencies working to provide relief in Vanuatu. Here’s how you can help and where your contributions go.
Oxfam Australia has three tiers of suggested donations for those who wish to contribute to the relief efforts in Vanuatu: AUD $50, $60 and $104 (CDN $48.85, $58.64 and $101.62).
The first tier would provide supplies to cope in the immediate aftermath of the storm, including tarpaulin, water containers, soap and other sanitary goods. The next level is enough money to set up a toilet for 20 people in an affected area. The third amount pays for a four-month food survival package for a family of six.
Oxfam Australia said any money raised above what is “required to meet the immediate and longer term needs of the people in affected areas” will go to its International Crisis Fund to address other emergency relief situations.
The United Nations Children’s Fund needs $2.7 million to deal with the “immediate humanitarian needs of children and families.”
“Lifeline infrastructure such as hospitals, electricity and water supply and telecommunications are severely damaged and will require rebuilding,” the relief agency said. “Safe water supplies and distribution has been destroyed for many. This increases the risk of water-borne diseases.”
While the most urgent supplies UNICEF staff in Vanuatu need to provide include water purification tablets, water containers, soap and sanitation facilities, it also requires vaccinations to prevent the spread of measles.
“Measles is persistent in Vanuatu, so vaccines are required along with temporary clinics and medical equipment.”
UNICEF New Zealand also has three tiers of suggested donations:
- $40, which is enough to provide measles vaccinations to 100 children.
- $60, an amount that can buy 10,000 tablets to purify water for three families for one week.
- $100, to provide clean water kits to 10 families.
UNICEF Canada is also collecting donations fthrough its emergency relief fund.
The Canadian Red Cross is also collecting donations for its Cyclone Pam Relief Fund.
“The force of this storm has been truly devastating for thousands of people in the region,” Hossam Elsharkawi, Director of International Emergencies and Recovery for the Canadian Red Cross, said on the organization’s website. “Shelter, water and health are urgent priorities and we continue to work with local authorities to make sure that people get the help they need.”
The Red Cross is providing to both Vanuatu and the island nation of Tuvalu, about 1,550 kilometres northeast of Port Vila, where it has already provided 100 blankets and 100 tarpaulins in the capital Funafuti.
U.K.-based ShelterBox is an organization that delivers containers packed with supplies to set up a temporary home for the survivors of disasters.
Their boxes contain a family-sized tent, blankets, ground sheets, solar lamps, cooking utensils, mosquito nets, a basic tool kit, water purification supplies and a children’s activity pack. The contents of the boxes vary depending on the conditions in an affected area.
“Sometimes our aid is not packed in boxes but sent in bulk. It is essential that we always support the needs of those who have survived disasters and this can vary enormously based on the type and scale of a disaster,” ShelterBox explained on its website.
The organization is teaming up with CARE International to send 1,000 of these kits to Vanuatu.
World Vision has also made a public call for donations to send its relief supply kits to hard-hit areas of Vanuatu.
- Shelter kits made up of tarpaulins, hammers, nails, saws, ropes and shovels.
- Kitchen sets with cooking pots, plates, cutlery and cups.
- Hygiene kits that contain toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, women’s sanitary items, candles, waterproof matches, a sewing kit, a bucket and soap.
“World Vision is distributing prepositioned relief supplies on the island, such as shelter kits, hygiene kits and kitchen sets, and further distributions are planned in the coming days,” a statement on the organization’s website read.