Flash Appeal: Vanuatu - Getting People Home after Devastating Cyclone


Vanuatu - IOM is stepping in to assist the Government of Vanuatu in getting people back to their communities as dozens of evacuation centres set up in the wake of Cyclone Pam begin to empty. 

The Category Five storm caused massive damage in the Pacific island nation, and also left its mark on the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu and New Caledonia.

A combination of effective early warning systems, good building practices, and the use of traditional building materials resulted in a relatively low death toll.

In a flash appeal issued today as part of the inter-agency response initiated in support of the Government of Vanuatu, IOM  is seeking over USD 1 million to assist in the provision of relief assistance and support displaced people's return to their communities.

The Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) reports that 75,000 people have critical shelter needs, while 110,000 are without access to clean drinking water. Root crops, which make up 80 per cent of the local food source, have been extensively damaged and some 166,000 people need food aid and assistance to resume agricultural activities.

The humanitarian response has been hugely affected by the disruption to communication networks throughout the country, although this is being prioritized and some links have already been restored.

Five IOM staff (Surge Team leader, Disaster Response, Health, Shelter and Media) were deployed within hours of the disaster, and reached the capital Port Vila on Monday 15 March – among the first relief workers to arrive and engage with government and local agencies.

Speaking from the capital Port Vila earlier today, IOM Surge Team leader George Gigauri said that evacuation centres were rapidly emptying:  “The Government is keen to get people out of evacuation shelters and back to their own homes as soon as possible. IOM is assisting with their safe return, working alongside the Government to ensure that no needs have been overlooked.” 

As early as last Thursday, 18 March, IOM activated its displacement tracking matrix, a real-time survey of evacuation centres, with built-in feedback mechanisms, to build up a clear picture of where people were sheltering. “This information has been crucial to the Government’s ability to assist people getting back to where they most want to be – their own homes,” added Gigauri. “Not everyone will be able to move home immediately, and their needs are also being catered to in transitional sites.”

Food distribution has begun in affected communities, while distributions of tarpaulins and other shelter materials will be completed today. Transport will be provided by NDMO to people’s homes.

IOM also is involved in providing health services to displaced communities, both in the few evacuation centres which will remain open, as well as in transitional sites and communities of origin.

Highlights of IOM activities in the first week of operation:

·         Participation in the rapid multi-disciplinary assessment to remote islands; assistance to the humanitarian system in building up the picture of needs and response

·         Supply of 650 hygiene kits to the far-flung Sheppard Islands, which represents the first maritime dispatch of relief supplies to that location

·         Receipt of 500 toolkits which are being distributed in evacuation centres as people begin their return home

·         Co-chair of Evacuations Center Cluster (CCCM) and coordination of the Centre Management Agencies Group (CMAG)

·         Co-chairing shelter cluster meetings and supporting the mapping of stocks and intended areas of intervention by each organization

·         Liaising with Vila Central Hospital, the major tertiary referral centre for the country, regarding needs to support assisted discharge and referrals

·         Management of health issues within evacuation centres including a misidentified case of measles

·         Site visits and data analysis to some 50 evacuation centres

·         Development of an exit/closure strategy of evacuation centres comprising community of origin-based relief distribution.

For further information please contact:

In Vanuatu: George Gigauri, Tel: +678 546 9671; Email: ggigauri@iom.int

Dr. Lesi Korovavala, Tel: +678 595 5049, Email: lkorovavala@iom.int

In Bangkok:  Joe Lowry, Tel: +6681 870 808, Email: jlowry@iom.int

Brian Kelly, Tel:  +6681 832 6802 Email: bkelly@iom.int

IOM is stepping in to assist the Government of Vanuatu and is seeking over USD 1 million to assist in the provision of relief assistance and support displaced people's return to their communities. © IOM/Joe Lowry 2015