Update on the response to Tropical Cyclone Gita
Update on the response to Tropical Cyclone Gita by United Nations Resident Coordinator, Osnat Lubrani
Nuku’alofa, Tonga, 19 February 2018
Tropical Cyclone Gita, a category 4 cyclone, struck Tonga on 12 and 13 February 2018, causing widespread destruction on the main island of Tongatapu, including the capital of Nuku’alofa, and the neighboring island of ‘Eua.
“The Government’s early warning actions and immediate response efforts are impressive. They clearly show the importance of preparedness and have no doubt contributed to reducing the impact of Tropical Cyclone Gita on human lives,” Ms. Lubrani said during her visit to Tonga.
Ms. Lubrani arrived in Tonga on 17 February 2018 to see the impact of Tropical Cyclone Gita for herself and to meet with Government officials and local partners.
The damage to Tonga’s economy and people’s homes is clear. Power supplies and communications services have been extensively interrupted in the islands. Many local businesses and public offices remain closed. The damage to fruit trees and agricultural crops is substantial.
According to the Government of Tonga’s latest situation report of 17 February 2018 there are 4,521 evacuees in 108 evacuation centres. Over 1,550 houses have been damaged.
“I was impressed by the incredible sense of community and resilience of the people of Tonga. I have seen women and men working together and clearing roads and yards in an effort to resume their daily routine as soon as possible”, said Ms. Lubrani.
Ms Lubrani added that “disasters disproportionately affect children, women and girls, young people, persons living with disabilities and other vulnerable populations. It is important that the Government-led response in Tonga reaches communities with life-saving services and equipment to rebuild their and their families' lives with dignity, while ensuring that the needs of vulnerable populations are prioritized in these efforts.”
The Government has welcomed the support of humanitarian and development partners to meet all priority needs in the months to come. On request of the Government of Tonga, the Pacific Humanitarian Team is supporting the national sector coordination through the National Emergency Management Office. The Team has extended technical expertise combined with financial support.
Pacific Humanitarian Team professionals are supporting Government and partners in responding to the immediate health, shelter and water and sanitation needs of affected communities in Tonga. Essential supplies are being sent to support children to return to school and dignity kits for displaced persons. Assistance to support early recovery and education response is now being deployed.
The Pacific Humanitarian Team is augmenting and supporting the Government’s response. The Team works with the Government of Tonga to ensure that the most vulnerable communities are reached with immediate relief items and supported with early recovery action.
“It will take time and hard work by everyone to quickly recover from Tropical Cyclone Gita,” said Ms. Lubrani. “The Pacific Humanitarian Team stands by the Government and the people of Tonga during these difficult times.”