30 Mar 2015

Vanuatu PM says opposition playing politics over Pam

1:13 pm on 30 March 2015

The Vanuatu Prime Minister Joe Natuman says the opposition is being childish over its criticism of the government in the wake of Cyclone Pam.

The leader of the opposition Moana Carcasses has accused Mr Natuman of being greedy, saying most of the donated relief has been sent to his home island of Tanna.

Mr Carcasses says he has been waiting for the Prime Minister to invite the opposition to work with his government in the wake of the disaster.

Mr Natuman says the opposition has been awakened from its deep slumber to capitalise on the situation and exploit misery for political gain.

He says extra powers have been to the National Disaster Management Office and the Director of the National Disaster Committee because in the past politicians and MPs have abused funds that were intended as relief assistance money.

He says the aim of his visits to affected islands has nothing to do with politics but to offer moral support to those affected.

The government says one opposition MP last week attempted to hijack a truckload of cyclone relief from Isangel for his supporters at Whitesands.

It says he was stopped on the way by military personnel already stationed on Tanna, using a Black Hawk helicopter.

Unicef helps mothers affected by Pam

Unicef is boosting its support for breastfeeding mothers as the immediate relief effort for the survivors of Cyclone Pam steadies.

The aid organisation has spent the past two weeks immunising 10-thousand children in Vanuatu against measles, and supplying basic food and water to communities.

A Unicef spokesperson, Alice Clements, says breastfeeding women and children under five are the weakest in the communities, and the agency wants to ensure they get the nutrients they need to keep them healthy.

Ms Clements says the arrival of the New Zealand Navy ship HMNZS Canterbury means aid workers can provide communities with supplies of clean drinking water.

Schools struggle to reopen

Save the Children says they are still concerned about conditions on Ambrym Island in Vanuatu.

The south eastern side of the island was badly hit by Cyclone Pam and 98 percent of their crops and shelters destroyed and drinking water contaminated.

The government has instructed all schools to start lessons today.

Save the Children's Vanuatu director, Tom Skirrow, says there is a lot of work to do in Ambrym before they can open a school.

Tom Skirrow says Ambrym's health centre is destroyed, vaccines spoiled, and clean drinking water is still a problem.

Save the Children says nearly 40 per cent of Vanuatu's children won't be in school this week.

Cruise ship visits to resume

The first cruise ship since Cyclone Pam will bring 2,000 tourists to Vanuatu on April the 4th.

The managing director of South Sea Shipping, John Tonner, says the Radiance of the Seas will bring the first cruise tourists to Vanuatu three weeks after the category-five cyclone devastated much of the country.

Our correspondent in Port Vila says hotels, resorts and local tour operators have been inundated with enquiries from Australia and New Zealand with people wanting to visit Vanuatu and help rebuild the country's economy.

Two cruise liners have arrived in Vanuatu since Cyclone Pam carrying relief supplies, but their passengers didn't disembark.

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Cruise ship visits to Vanuatu to resume Photo: AFP