With more than half the population of Vanuatu homeless, the arrival in Port Vila of 2,000 tarpaulins in the next few days, to be used as temporary shelters, will enable Caritas to respond directly to one of the greatest needs following Cyclone Pam.
OCHA reports that 12,000 shelter kits and 24,000 tarpaulins are needed for communities across the island nation, especially on Tanna and Erromango Islands where the category 5 cyclone passed closest to.
“Shelter is a major need, so the arrival of these supplies is crucial to our being able to help the most vulnerable in this emergency,” says Mark Mitchell, Humanitarian Programmes Coordinator for Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand.
Speaking from Port Vila where Caritas Oceania agencies, including Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand and Caritas Australia are leading a combined Caritas response, Mr Mitchell said that coordination of the response was going well and communication was slowly being brought back onboard.
“Every day we are getting more information from other, more remote islands. What we are hearing is that on top of shelter, food is also major concern as in many places everything above ground has been destroyed. People still have access to root crops, but will only last about a week for many communities.”
In the midst of the devastation and the direness of the situation, there is also a hopeful story to be found in the reduced number of casualties because of aid organisations like Caritas working with government and communities to prepare for such emergencies.
“In 2013 and 2014 we worked with a consortium of New Zealand NGOs on simulations of emergency responses in Vanuatu and other Pacific nations to build preparedness. These kinds of programmes really helped people in Vanuatu be prepared for an emergency like this and helped save lives,” Mr Mitchell says.
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is appealing for donations to the Pacific Cyclone Relief fund to respond to immediate needs and help affected communities in Vanuatu rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
Donations to assist with the humanitarian response can be made by:
Phoning 0800 22 10 22 to make credit card donations
Donating online to Pacific Cyclone Relief Fund using a credit card at www.caritas.org.nz
Internet banking – account #03 0518 0211216 00
Text Pam to 833 to donate $3 to Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand