Two rapid assessment teams have arrived in the two small southern Vanuatu islands hit hardest by Cyclone Pam to rapidly assess exactly what survivors of the disaster need.
Oxfam Country Director in Port Vila, Colin Collett van Rooyen, said one team was now in Tanna and another team was in Erromango with both due back to Port Vila within 24 hours to report on what is needed on each island.
“Each team took with them emergency supply kits for short term assistance including medical supplies, water and sanitation supplies, food and shelter related supplies,” Mr Collett van Rooyen said.
“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,” he said.
Mr Collett van Rooyen said there were also air based surveys taking place and data from those was excpected shortly to identify priority areas where more teams needed to be dispatched to.
Tanna, which took the full force of the 250kmh Cyclone Pam, is about 200km south of the capital Port Vila and home to nearly 30,000 people.
Erromango Island was also right in the path of the cyclone but has a smaller population of about 2,000 people.
The UN said last night 24 people across Vanuatu were now confirmed dead, with 3,300 displaced.
Mr Collett van Rooyen said there were growing concerns about food, water sanitation and hygiene for the 3,300 people in the 48 evacuation centres in Port Vila.
“Friday night was the first emergency with the arrival of Cyclone Pam, disease could be the second emergency without clean water, sanitation and hygiene provision,” Mr Collett van Rooyen said.
“The Vanuatu Government is working hard for its people but the need for humanitarian assistance in response to this crisis is enormous,” Mr Collett van Rooyen said. “The assistance that is beginning to arrive now is very welcome, but we will need much more,” he said.
Oxfam Australia Executive Director Helen Szoke said Oxfam Australia had launched a full scale appeal to help the many thousands of people affected by the devastating cyclone.
“Oxfam is committed to helping Vanuatu for as long as it takes,” she said.
You can support Oxfam’s response to humanitarian crises by donating to our Cyclone Pam Appeal at www.oxfam.org.au/cyclonepam or by calling 1800 034 034
For interviews, including from Oxfam’s staff on the ground or more information, please contact John Lindsay on +61 (0) 423 456 046 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Angus Hohenboken in Vanuatu on +61 (0) 428 367 318 or email@example.com