Communities in Vanuatu are slowly beginning to pick up the pieces left behind after destructive winds and heavy rains, brought by two Category Four cyclones, tore through the Pacific Island nation within the space of a few days, said Save the Children.
Initial reports from Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office have indicated approximately 251,319 people, of which 125,500 are children, have been impacted by the dual tropical cyclones, nearly 80% of the country’s population.
In Shefa province alone, which includes the nation’s capital, Port Vila, around 50,000 children have been impacted by successive severe tropical cyclones this week.
In addition to the two category four cyclones, Vanuatu also experienced a magnitude 6.6 earthquake in the early hours of Friday morning, just off the island of Espiritu Santo.
Save the Children Pacific Director Kim Koch said while the extent of the damage is still not yet clear, the impact of the successive cyclones on children and their communities across Vanuatu will be immense.
“What we’re seeing on the ground is just sheer devastation. As families have started to pick up the pieces that have been left behind by TC Judy and TC Kevin, we’re seeing houses destroyed, some with roofs blown right off, as well as damage to critical infrastructure like roads, schools and hospitals.
“People here in Vanuatu barely had time to register the impacts of Cyclone Judy before having to bunker down for a second powerful storm.
“These kinds of disasters have a lasting impact on children and their communities, and beyond the immediate needs, responding to a crisis on this scale is likely to be a longer-term proposition.
"Save the Children is preparing to respond in the priority areas identified by the government of Vanuatu, including Shefa province where we have a strong operational presence, and stands ready to assist.
“Our priority is to ensure children and their communities are safe and have adequate shelter, and that children are able to access education as well as other services to minimise the impact of the disaster on their mental health and wellbeing.
“Vanuatu is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world and children across the islands have been highlighting the impact of the climate crisis on their lives as they tirelessly campaign for change.
“The devastation they have faced in the past few days is a clear signal that more must be done to address the climate crisis. Children in Vanuatu and across the Pacific have the right to live free from increasing climate-fuelled disasters.”
Save the Children has a long history of responding to emergencies in the Pacific and Vanuatu, ensuring we work alongside the Government of Vanuatu in the coordination of the response.
MEDIA CONTACT: Mala Darmadi on 0425562113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To support Save the Children’s work responding to emergencies, including the latest disaster in Vanuatu, visit: www.savethechildren.org.au/emergency-fund.