Thousands of people left homeless in Vanuatu last weekend after a deadly cyclone ripped through the cluster of islands in the South Pacific were still waiting for relief on Friday.
As the confirmed death toll from the hurricane rose to 13, many survivors were still taking refuge in homeless shelters, while Vanuatu’s government began distributing emergency supplies to some of the affected areas and foreign aid arrived to the hard-hit island of Tanna in the form of French and Australian troops.
Other provinces will have to wait for the government to finish its official assessment before they send help. “Some relief supplies have been starting to get there anyway, but the more organized and the larger relief efforts will start tomorrow,” Osnat Lubrani, the country’s United Nations humanitarian coordinator, told the Associated Press on Friday. “The relief has to start coming now, because if it doesn’t come in the next two days or so, then we will have problems with food and with water.”
The island nation will need at least $2 million in emergency aid to buy supplies and ship them to the most affected areas, the UN said.
According to Oxfam, up to 90 percent of housing in Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila, was seriously damaged from the cyclone, which hit the archipelago with winds that soared from 155-185 miles per hour.
Isso Nihmei, Vanuatu’s coordinator for 350.org, made an appeal for help from supporters on Tuesday, stating, “In the next days people will not have enough food anymore.”
“Now that Cyclone Pam has left, it’s like a heat wave has hit us,” Isso continued. “Climate change is bringing new extremes to Vanuatu. It’s devastating us.”