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UN relief agencies ramp up support to cyclone-hit Vanuatu

Amid reports that Cyclone Pam has impacted at least half the population of Vanuatu, the country's President, attending a United Nations conference under way in Japan aiming to reduce disaster risk, appealed for international support in anticipation of large-scale needs.

"Vanuatu is used to disasters but the indications are that Cyclone Pam has caused unprecedented damages, said President Baldwin Lonsdale in a press release issued on his behalf by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

Mr. Lonsdale made his appeal from Sendai, Japan, where he has been attending the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. The Conference has drawn thousands of Government and civil society delegations to craft a new framework for managing disaster risk which will reduce mortality and curb economic losses.

Mr. Lonsdale reported that Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office is coordinating an aerial survey of the affected areas the Government would then have a better idea of what has happened in the outlying islands.

“We are particularly concerned about the province of Tafea. However, I can say from past experience that there will be severe damage to schools, health facilities, roads and public utilities,” he said, adding that there will also be significant humanitarian needs.

UNICEF reports that schools, churches and community halls are being used as emergency shelters. Many of these buildings are likely to have suffered structural damage. Lifeline facilities like hospitals, electrical utilities, water supply and telephone systems are likely to be severely damaged.

Other Pacific Island countries have been severely impact as well, including the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Kiribati.

Source: UN

•Date: 16th March 2015 • Asia Pacific •Type: Article • Topic:: DR general

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