Shelter crucial in Vanuatu after cyclone

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Elisan charges her phone and lamps ready for another night in the No. 2 Lagoon Evacuation Centre near Port Vila in Vanuatu following Cyclone Pam. Credit: Mark Mitchell/ Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand

More than half the population of Vanuatu is homeless following Cyclone Pam. Caritas will provide temporary shelter with the arrival in Port Vila of 2000 tarpaulins in the next few days.

“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,” said Mark Mitchell.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Mark Mitchell in Port Vila, please contact Communications, Marketing and Fundraising Advisor Crispin Anderlini on 021 190 9908 or email to crispin@caritas.org.nz

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