UN appeals for $20 million for Vanuatu cyclone victims

AP News
Posted: Apr 10, 2015 9:31 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations appealed for nearly $20 million Friday for victims of Cyclone Pam which tore through the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu last month, killing 17 people and leaving about 65,000 homeless.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the money is needed to continue basic relief efforts including providing food, safe drinking water and shelter.

A U.N. appeal for about $30 million was launched on March 24 to cover the needs of 166,000 cyclone-affected people for three months but Dujarric said that to date donors have given only $10.7 million, just 36 per cent.

The cyclone's winds of 170 miles per hour (270 kilometers per hour) destroyed more than 90 percent of the archipelago's crops, leaving a population that relies heavily on subsistence agriculture without a source of income and the possibility of long-term food insecurity.

Osnat Lubrani, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Vanuatu, said about 110,000 people have no access to safe drinking water and in some communities all sanitation facilities were destroyed.

Some 6,000 people are still living in makeshift or temporary shelters in the most affected provinces of Tafea and Shefa, she said.

Lubrani said after returning from a government-led assessment mission that life-saving assistance to support local efforts is still urgently needed.

"Vanuatu will need a lot of help in rebuilding infrastructure, replanting of crops and providing communities with employment opportunities as the country gradually transitions to long-term recovery," she said.