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Vanuatu volcano eruption: Oxfam’s response

Monday 12 December 2005

Vanuatu volcano eruption: Oxfam’s response

International aid agency Oxfam is responding to the humanitarian needs of people affected by the volcanic eruption of Mt Ambae in Vanuatu which displaced half the population of Ambae island.

Oxfam has sent $55,000 for the purchase of shelter materials, water containers and non-food items for 3,000 people. These materials will be distributed through the Vanuatu Red Cross.

The eruption of Mt Ambae on November 27 has caused the displacement of 5,000 people to safe areas along the coast. Oxfam partner, the Vanuatu Rural Development and Training Centres Association (VRDTCA), has reported that their training centres on Ambae are sheltering hundreds of displaced people, providing safe water from protected tanks and providing food.

Water and food reserves are now running low. No casualties have been reported so far, however, houses and food crops have been covered with ash. There is a danger that ash, gas and acid rain could affect people’s respiratory systems and contaminate their water supplies and food crops.

“Oxfam is working with our local partners to assess how best to continue to respond to the needs of people affected by this volcano eruption. Our priority is to ensure that people have access to the basic essentials such as shelter and water,” says Kate Medlicott, Oxfam New Zealand’s Water and Emergencies Programme Manager.

The volcano continues to be moderately active and this could result in more ash and acid rain falling over the island.

Oxfam is monitoring the situation from its Port Vila office and from Ambae through the local partner organisation. Emergency water and sanitation experts are on standby for deployment.

ENDS

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