Just a few days ago, Cyclone Pam, a category 5 storm (200-250mph wind) and one of the most powerful storms since Haiyan in 2013, made landfall in the Pacific Island Nation of Vanuatu, completely destroying or causing significant damage to homes, buildings, and hospitals.
At least eight people have been confirmed dead and thousands are displaced. Many rural communities that were impacted by the storm are inaccessible; and many roads have been blocked by fallen trees and/or power lines, making it even more difficult for aid workers to reach many places. Communication infrastructures with the 83 islands in the archipelago are down and the death toll will continue to climb as more information emerges and communications are repaired. The United Nations has stated that Pam could be one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the Pacific.
Vanuatu's remote location in the Pacific also adds to the challenges humanitarian groups will face. Roughly 260,000 people live in Vanuatu, many in homes built of weaker materials, including straw and corrugated steel that stood little chance against Pam's raging winds.
The main objective now is to get first responder into Vanuatu and begin the humanitarian operation. The highest priority currently is the lack of clean water and sanitation for the many people who are displaced. Week of Compassion's partner, ACT Alliance, is assessing the full damage and coordinating with local and international partners as well as the government of Vanuatu for a response. The early recovery work will be to provide lifesaving services of medical aid, food, water and shelter.
While initial emergency relief activities are essential for saving lives, rebuilding basic infrastructure and restoration of farmlands and livelihoods are essential for the long term. Week of Compassion will continue to work with our partners to provide immediate and long-term recovery support in the upcoming days and months. Week of Compassion stands in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Pacific, and we seek your prayers for the people of Vanuatu who are impacted by this storm.
This Week's Responses:
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Jordan, Refugee Support