1 Mar 2004

Vanautu's central islands need much assistance in wake of Ivy

4:40 pm on 1 March 2004

The Vanuatu government says it has received significant international aid in the wake of the devastation caused by Cyclone Ivy.

Job Esau, the general manager of the National Disaster Management office, says first assessments from a flight by a Royal New Zealand Airforce Orion, indicate that the central islands are the hardest hit.

Mr Esau says follow-up surveys will take place shortly and further requests for help could follow, but in the meantime, the international effort is meeting the need.

"Currently the Government of Vanuatu is happy with the level of support that is provided by the FRANZ partners: the French, Australia and New Zealand. This is just an initial step that we're taking at the moment, but we're happy with the level of support that they have provided so far."

Mr Esau says supplies will be delivered to the hard-hit central provinces by air as soon as the transportation is available.

New Zealand has given 50-thousand U.S. dollars toward cyclone relief and two Australian Hercules aircraft arrived today with emergency supplies, such as tarpaulins, water containers and water purification tablets.

United Nations' experts from Tonga, Fiji, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands and Australia are to arrive in Vanuatu today.


Bryan Smythe, New Zealand's High Commissioner in Port Vila, says the areas most affected are the islands of Paama, Epi, Ambrym, the eastern coast of Malekula and the northern tips of Ambae and Maewo.

Mr Smythe says the first priority is providing shelter for many among the 24,000 inhabitants of the central islands who have had their houses destroyed.

Many of the traditional houses have been destroyed completely in those most affected areas - seventy to ninety percent of houses in some of the villages. Some of the permanent houses have had their roofs lifted off, the crops are very seriously damaged, particularly those above the ground, and the impact of that will come in the weeks ahead.

Bryan Smythe.