400 evacuees return home so far

Roughly over 400 evacuees from Ambae have returned home, says Penama Disaster Officer Tari (photo: Ambae Base Community)

An estimated over 400 Ambae evacuees have returned to their homes, the Penama Provincial Disaster Officer, Mansen Tari, told the Daily Post yesterday.

Tari said they boarded several ships including boats since when the State of Emergency (SoE) declaration imposed on their island lapsed.

“Few people initially returned home before the Council of Ministers (COM) meeting was held on Wednesday this week.More families in Maewo including Santo are likely to be boarding ships in the coming days.

“Some evacuation centres that were heavily crowded with evacuees are becoming empty. The estimated 400 evacuees left with their belongings.

“Some want to go but later refused after receiving advice from a team that was sent out to update them on the key messages from COM.Some of us will not return home until the ground assessments are done”, he said.

Disaster Officer Tari said the people have made a bad decision to return home before government services could be moved back to Ambae.

He said they went home on their own accord and at their own cost.

These evacuees were sent away from their homes due to volcanic activity. They have been residing on Maewo for several months.

When COM agreed not to extend the SoE once it ended on Wednesday, it made it clear that the Ambae people should remain on Maewo for some time because of the uncertainty of the volcanic activity.

Disaster authorities have also revealed that no ground assessment has been done to determine whether conditions on Ambae are safe for human life.

COM put the chiefs from Ambae in charge of controlling their people and the Penama Provincial Government as the provincial and local focal point to coordinate the recovery efforts from now on.

The National Recovery Committee will take lead in the recovery efforts at the national level.

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