21 Jan 2014

UN gets nod to aid Tonga cyclone victims

4:17 pm on 21 January 2014

The United Nations says it is pleased to be officially asked by Tonga to offer cyclone relief as some immediate needs of the people are not being met.

The Tongan government officially invited the UN and other aid agencies to the Kingdom today, nine days after Cyclone Ian hit the northern islands of Ha'apai.

The UN resident coordinator, Osnat Lubrani, says there has been important action taken by the government, military and bilateral partner countries.

But she says there are gaps in health, sanitation and food security in which action by humanitarian groups is needed.

She says in the past week, there was a lack of understanding by some key ministries as to what humanitarian help could achieve.

"There was a need for clarification on how humanitarian assistance comes. There was a lot of effort invested in collecting very detailed information rather than putting out the request for assistance so that we could come in earlier. But I'm very pleased this has now been resolved and we can move quickly."

The UN resident coordinator, Osnat Lubrani.