Caritas helping storm-battered Pacific islanders
09 February 2009
Caritas has been among the first agencies to deliver aid to people in the Solomon Islands after massive flooding killed at least ten people and washed away homes and bridges.
South Pacific islands are at increasing risk from the effects of climate change
The government has declared a state of emergency after torrential rains on the main island of Guadalcanal and neighbouring Savo Island affected 1,800 families.
“Roads and bridges have been destroyed and between 10,000-15,000 people remain isolated and in need of urgent assistance,” said Caritas Australia’s Pacific Programme manager Justine McMahon.
Caritas is targeting vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly and women to ensure they have access to food and clean water. But damaged infrastructure makes delivering aid difficult.
“It appears that essential supplies such as emergency food, water and household relief kits will need to be transported by boat to reach those affected,” said Ms McMahon.
Forecasts of more heavy rain means that further flooding is a possibility.
The islands’ crops have also been damaged by the flooding, putting food supplies at risk.
Rains and flooding have battered the South Pacific Since last December. Fiji Islands, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands, have all been affected and tens of thousands of people have abandoned their homes.
Scientists have warned that the effects of climate change could have a dramatic impact on South Pacific Islands.
Not only are the islands at risk of more extreme weather events, but rising sea levels caused by melting polar ice caps could submerge the islands creating thousands of climate change refugees.
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