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Statement on Tropical Cyclone Pam

Environmental/Climate Change, Emergencies, News/feature, Global, 2015

The impact  of Tropical Cyclone Pam on the nation of Vanuatu have been devastating. It is estimated that the entire country has been affected by the extremely damaging winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges and flooding.  However, with communications knocked out and weather hampering access to the archipelago of islands the extent of the loss of life and damage caused will not be fully known until communication is re-established across the outer islands. 

Immediate needs will include search and rescue, shelter, water and sanitation, health and protection services. Relief efforts will be challenging given the geography and the logistics required to operate across the vast area. 

The humanitarian response is being led by the government and people of Vanuatu. The Prime Minister has declared a state of emergency and has asked for support. Ireland stands ready to assist the people of Vanuatu who have been affected by this terrible calamity. Irish Aid will use its Emergency Response Fund Mechanism to swiftly release funds to partner organisations who have an established presence in the region in order to meet urgent needs. This funding will enable Irish Aid partners to respond in these crucial days and weeks when quick action is critical in ensuring that loss of life is minimised and suffering is alleviated. Needs assessment surveys are currently being carried out by the UN, Red Cross and NGOs who are present in Vanuatu, to identify the most affected areas and priority humanitarian requirements.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs will play a key role in supporting the Government of Vanuatu’s disaster response. Ireland provides substantial support to UNOCHA to support its critical role in humanitarian crises. Ireland  also provides significant funding to the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) which is assisting the Vanuatu Society of the Red Cross in its work to help local communities affected by the disaster. In 2014 Ireland provided over €1 million to the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF), which allows swift response in times of sudden onset crises –to date 133,000 Swiss francs has been released from the DREF to enable the Vanuatu Red Cross Society to respond to the needs of affected communities.

Ireland is also one of the major international donors to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), providing €10 million in support in December last. The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund CERF is one of the fastest and most effective ways to support rapid humanitarian response for people affected by natural disasters and armed conflict. CERF makes money available at the beginning of a crisis, when time is of the essence and it is critical that emergency relief operations get under way quickly.

Through the Irish Aid programme Ireland puts a strong emphasis on disaster risk reduction in the world’s poorest countries- providing some €20 million for these efforts in 2014