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World Vision launches relief efforts in Vanuatu

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First relief distribution takes place as agencies try to desperately reach outer islands cut off by Cyclone Pam

MISSISSAUGA, Ont (March 16, 2015) – Amid scenes of destruction, World Vision began distributing relief supplies in Port Vila, Vanuatu today. The international humanitarian agency is responding to the devastation caused by Cyclone Pam, which struck the south Pacific island chain on Friday evening. Items distributed included prepositioned relief supplies already on the island, such as shelter kits, hygiene kits and kitchen sets. Further distributions are planned in the coming days.  

  • Shelter Kits contain items such as tarpaulins, hammers, nails, saws, ropes, shovels.
  • Hygiene Kits contain items such as toothpaste and toothbrush, soap, sanitary items for women, shaving razors, sewing kit, bucket, candles and waterproof matches.
  • Kitchen Sets contain items such as cooking pots, cups, plates and cutlery.

Additional supplies are en route to Vanuatu. It is still unclear how many people have died across the 82 islands of the Republic of Vanuatu (population 267,000) following the cyclone.  Communications remain cut off. Agencies like World Vision are struggling to account for their own staff. Forty-five of the agency’s 80 staff across the island archipelago have been located, while communications in many outlying islands remain down. 

Quotes:

“The devastation is vast. Trees are uprooted, power lines and corrugated iron roofs litter the road. Homes are badly damaged. A 6p.m. curfew has been put in place tonight,” says Alex Snary of World Vision New Zealand, who arrived in Vanuatu today. 

“We are deeply concerned about how communities, and especially children, have been affected by this cyclone,” says World Vision Vanuatu Country Director, Michael Wolfe.  “The cyclone effectively hit all of the islands, many of which are remote, low-lying and extremely vulnerable. Experience tells us that children are especially at risk to sea surges and the secondary impacts of a cyclone, including water source corruption by seawater, hunger following crop devastation, and trauma – both physical and psychological.”

“It’s often the case that the smallest and most vulnerable nations in the world are hardest hit by natural disasters like this,” says Dave Toycen, president and CEO of World Vision Canada. “Thousands of children and their families have lost everything as a result of this immensely powerful storm and I urge Canadians to donate to relief efforts launched by World Vision and other humanitarian aid agencies to help Vanuatu.”

Fast Facts:
  • Canadians can learn more about World Vision’s relief efforts by visiting our website at www.worldvision.ca.
  • World Vision has disaster response supplies pre-positioned on Vanuatu and many communities have worked with us through Disaster Preparedness Drills that teach residents how to map threats, plan evacuations, and enhance search and rescue skills.
  • World Vision has been in Vanuatu since 1981 and currently has 80 staff members based throughout the country, across six provinces. 
Media Contact:

Bob Neufeld (Mobile: 647-622-2045)

World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. Visit our News Centre at worldvision.ca

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