Vanuatu gets more cyclone help
Aid continues to pour into Vanuatu after last week's devastating Cyclone Pam.
Vanuatu is continuing to receive pledges of support from around the world as it prepares to distribute aid to the villages hit by Cyclone Pam a week ago.
It has defended its policy of halting the ad hoc delivery of aid by NGOs and other groups, saying a co-ordinated approach that gets help to all victims is vital.
The prime minister's spokesperson Kiery Manasseh spoke with our reporter Koroi Hawkins.
KIERY MANASSEH: The small pledges coming in, in terms of assistance, China is coming in with 500 million worth of goods and is bringing that shortly. The British Airforce also arrived in the country bringing about 30 tonnes of relief supplies. Hopefully we will be seeing some distribution work happening next week onwards.
KOROI HAWKINS: And there is already some relief work ongoing at the moment that started, I understand, some yesterday and ongoing today. What is that?
KM: There are some relief assistance being given out. I think UNICEF were down on Tanna today. Yesterday there's been some relief distributed also to the islands of Tanna and also we've had more assessments coming from the other provinces especially Shefa.
KH: So just to clarify the assistance that's going out now is just food and support for little things, the major one is yet to come?
KM: Yes. People from the islands, a lot of them live off their root crops and the government has calculated that they will still be able to survive with the food that they have and especially with yam season at the present. Usually yams can last for a number of days so the government is planning on the people to be able to be using those until relief supplies reach them. I think the government has made a lot of commitment. Aid should be shipping also by next week. We should be seeing some supplies being given out by the government and then we should be seeing more efforts by the international community coming in to support those and supplement those efforts by the government.
KH: Overall things seem to be moving according to plan. Is there anything else that the government is still in need of that they are asking for at the moment?
KM: We very much appreciate the efforts that are being made by the international community and so the key message that the government would like to give out is that we welcome all the assistance that we can gather and we want to co-ordinate all of those and help all our people get back and rebuild their lives. I think it's also important to let the listeners know that the government is very concerned about the economy and so it's organising a forum for all the investors because it is all very well to organise relief supplies for now for immediate needs but the economy is so important. The government is thinking of that and wants to help the private sector get back on their feet and be able to support the economy.
KH: There has been some surprise and criticism of the government's decision to hold back on giving relief supplies and do the assessments they said they would carry out. Has the government got a statement in reply to those criticisms?
KM: In response to criticisms that the government has been slow in delivering the assistance, basically I would say that it's not really that we're delaying the assistance. The issue really is the amount of relief that we have got is really not enough to go out yet and also we have got logistical problems. The logistical challenges that we've been having is that because of the scattered nature of the islands it is difficult to be able to reach them so we are hopeful that we will be having HMS Canterbury from New Zealand and also the Australian boat HMAS Tobruk and the French navy boat itself arriving shortly in Port Vila. Those boats will come in and help Vanuatu deliver all the relief that we are stocking at the moment. As I say, the government is not deliberately delaying the delivery of the assistance. All it wants to do is make sure that the relief goes out all at once and everybody benefits from it.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: