Osnat Lubrani: Flash Appeal Launch: Tropical Cyclone PamMar 24, 2015
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Esteemed partners, colleagues and guests,
It is my great privilege to join the Government of Vanuatu in launching the humanitarian response Flash Appeal for Vanuatu, in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Pam.
The people of Vanuatu have been through a devastating experience. Just 11 days ago Cyclone Pam struck the country at Category 5 force, causing widespread damage and affecting well over half of the population. It is an enormous disaster for a small country.
I commend the Government for its leadership throughout the early days of the response to the disaster, as well as for the preparedness activities it undertook to minimise loss of life. There is no doubt in my mind that in the face of what was a deadly cyclone, Vanuatu’s important investment in preparedness for disaster has saved many lives.
However while a high death toll was avoided, critical needs remain. Although the people of Vanuatu have shown immense resilience and strength at this difficult time, further urgent assistance is required to ensure that Vanuatu can focus on recovering from this disaster – and that further, potentially life-threatening, impacts from disease, food insecurity and a lack of shelter can be avoided.
An estimated 166,600 people on 22 islands have been affected – more than half the country’s population. There is a critical need for food relief, 75,000 people are in need of shelter and 110,000 people do not have access to safe drinking water.
Since the cyclone struck the Government has demonstrated its commitment to ensuring that the response is coordinated and well planned, and to channelling assistance as quickly as possible to those who need it most. The Government has been clear from Day One that principles of equity and accountability are paramount.
Much has been accomplished in the first 11 days of the response, in large part due to the existence of strong national capacity, as well as the rapid mobilisation of international support.
The humanitarian community is taking the lead from the Government, working through national systems including the National Disaster Management Office and the Vanuatu Humanitarian Team and also with provincial authorities and local networks.
Although there is huge need at this time, the people of Vanuatu have shown impressive resilience – and the government is clear that this should be reinforced and strengthened as part of any response.
Having witnessed the operation on the ground under the leadership of the National Disaster Management Office and the Vanuatu Humanitarian Team, there is good reason for the people of Vanuatu to be proud of the concerted actions taken by the government and people, with the support of Vanuatu’s close friends, to help in immediate assessment of the situation, restoration of telecommunications and prioritised transport of essential supplies to families under extremely challenging circumstances. We are proud to stand with the Government of Vanuatu at this time.
This response requires an eye on both immediate and long-term needs. In all my discussions, I applaud the attention given already at this time to the medium-to-long term recovery.
Today we stand with the Government of Vanuatu to urgently seek the support of the international community at a time of immense need. This Flash Appeal presents a unified set of funding needs to donors and provides a plan and concise overview of urgent life-saving needs.
Assistance provided today will save lives and support the recovery of a small nation facing one of its biggest challenges. I trust that the generosity shown by donors to date will be renewed and strengthened through this difficult time.
Thank you for your kind attention – we welcome questions and comments at the end.