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World Vision New Zealand arrive on the ground in Vanuatu

Monday 16 March, 2015

World Vision New Zealand arrive on the ground in Vanuatu to support cyclone relief effort

First distribution takes place in Port Vila as agencies try to desperately reach outer islands cut off by Cyclone Pam.

World Vision New Zealand staff members Alex Snary and Laura Gemmell have arrived in Vanuatu as part of an international mobilisation of aid workers to assist the cyclone hit nation.

They will be joining in-country World Vision staff who are working around the clock to respond to the needs of hundreds of thousands of people affected by Cyclone Pam.

Alex Snary, World Vision New Zealand’s General Manager of International Programmes has worked in international humanitarian service for over 20 years, heading up major relief efforts throughout the globe and has recently returned to New Zealand after five years working for World Vision in West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza.

On arriving in Vanuatu, Alex Snary said: “The devastation is vast. Trees are uprooted, power lines and corrugated iron roofs litter the road. Homes are badly damaged. A 6pm curfew has been put in place tonight.”

Snary will assist World Vision Vanuatu as they assess the damage caused by Cyclone Pam which hit on Fridayevening, local time.

World Vision begins distributions

World Vision began distributions in Port Vila late this afternoon. Items distributed included prepositioned relief goods from World Vision’s Port Vila warehouse space. World Vision has so far distributed 45 shelter kits, 45 hygiene kits and 45 kitchen sets to vulnerable communities, and further distributions are planned in the coming hours.

• Shelter Kits contain items such as tarpaulins, hammers, nails, saws, ropes, shovels.

• Hygiene Kits contain items such as toothpaste and toothbrush, soap, sanitary items for women, shaving razors, sewing kit, bucket, candles and waterproof matches.

• Kitchen Sets contain items such as cooking pots, cups, plates and cutlery

Additional supplies are en route to Vanuatu.

It is still unclear how many people might have been killed across the 82 islands of the Republic of Vanuatu (pop 267,000) following the cyclone.

Communications remain cut off. Agencies like World Vision are struggling to account for their own staff. 45 of the agency’s 80 staff across the island archipelago have been located, while communications in many outlying islands remain down.

“We are deeply concerned about how communities, and especially children, have been impacted by this cyclone,” said World Vision Vanuatu Country Director Michael Wolfe. “The cyclone effectively hit all of the islands, many of which are remote, low lying and extremely vulnerable. Experience tells us that children are especially at risk to sea surges and the secondary impacts of a cyclone, including water source corruption by seawater, hunger following crop devastation and trauma – both physical and psychological.”

He said it could take many days to assess the islands both by air and boat and World Vision staff hoped to join assessments on Australian military flights in the coming days.

Initial surveys have been carried out in Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila area. Such was the extent of the devastation that aid agencies fear the worst for the other 81 islands where people chiefly live in thatched homes with few solid buildings to evacuate to.

Within the Port Vila area 25 evacuation centres have been set up to house up to 10,000 people. Aid agencies will be providing services to these centres. Over the coming days they will be working to coordinate their responses. The assessments will provide agencies a much clearer idea of what is needed and where, and will guide the supplies that are dispatched. World Vision aid supplies based in Brisbane are also on standby to be flown in to Vanuatu once an air corridor has been established.

World Vision New Zealand has launched an appeal to ensure that much needed supplies make their way to Vanuatu.

The public can donate here: or by calling 0800 905 0008


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