Ambae exodus now complete; community-led response assisting displaced people around VanuatuPosted: October 4, 2017
Ambae is now empty of people. The island’s population
of 11,500 has been entirely evacuated. Up to 6,000 evacuees have gone to Santo, with an estimated 2,000 staying with family. Another 3,000 evacuees have been housed on Maewo and Pentecost islands and approximately 500 in Vila, reports RNZI.
Because of proximity and the existing close relationship with Santo there are some 51 evacuation centres in the northern capital Luganville. The Ambae Manaro Organizing Committee in Port Vila is coordinating with people in the northern town to get aid to displaced people as soon as possible. Port Vila activities are being organised from Sarabulu Church in Namburu and people able to help in the capital are invited to assist. The El Manaro kava bar in Bellevue has become the home of 50 Ambae evacuees, and owners Kathy and Abel Nako have set up a fundraising page to support those in their care.
The Santo Ambae Disaster Support Community, an ad hoc relief group set up by Santo-resident Ambae people and other concerned Santo residents, urges all displaced Ambae islanders to register with them at their office next to Vunalele. Check out their Facebook page for contact details.
And a reminder to people who’d like to help: cash donations are best. Donated goods add an extra burden which may hinder the humanitarian effort at this time.
In an important message concerning the displacement policy, Operations Manager Peter Korisa points out the technical difficulty with the Government’s removal policy. Until now, even though there has been a great deal of discussion within Government, the details of a transfer exercise such as that taking place now have not been thoroughly discussed with those concerned, especially as lengths of stay in the new location have not been specified and the planning issues are considerable. Present arrangements are temporary, but could last up to three months. Repatriation arrangements for evacuees will be considered once the volcanic alert level drops back to 3; it remains at 4 out of a maximum of 5, indicating that a moderate eruption is still taking place on Ambae. And concerns remain for water supplies and for crops, especially on the southern half of the island.
At the Joint Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Roundtable meeting in Fiji this week, the Vanuatu Government’s prompt evacuation order is being hailed as an excellent example of implementing target B of the UN’s Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, “Reducing the number of people directly affected by disasters with a particular focus on housing and livelihoods”.