Flash Appeal for volcanic ash victims

Families struggling to survive as continuous ash fall spreads to villages, destroying homes and the environment. Photo: William.S.Mala from Penama Disater Operation Center

The Council of Ministers (COM) has given the green light for the Government to launch a flash appeal, and respond to the immediate needs and recovery of the people affected by volcanic ash on Ambae for three months.

The COM declared the disaster is beyond the state’s capacity to deal with thus call for the establishment of a Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

CERF is a component of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), responsible for providing quick funding to countries threatened by disasters.

Whenever a disaster or emergency strikes, OCHA brings together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response.

While agreeing that the government should seek technical and financial assistance from donors, regional and international partners, COM declared all funds for recovery will have to go through the National Treasury.

Children and families on Ambae are struggling to survive due to heavy volcanic ash spread. Ash fall initially affected over 1,000 households in west and south Ambae before spreading to other parts of the island by wind.

It has covered a wider area, destroying gardens and the environment. It is also a challenge for those with livestock.

The government mobilized resources to reach out to communities, through its well-functioning disaster coordination mechanism in place.

The National Cluster System was intended to enable the flow of humanitarian relief supplies, like food, shelter and water from donors to the needy.

Headed by the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), the cluster system is supported by sectors as agriculture, water and health including humanitarian organisations such as the Vanuatu Red Cross Society (VRCS) and Save the Children, who have an active presence in rural communities.

The first COM meeting on March 29 agreed for the Ministry of Finance to disburse Vt40million as emergency fund to accelerate response to ash fall victims.

When it met for the second time on Tuesday, April 12, COM announced the government cannot deal the disaster on its own anymore, it needs support to meet the needs of the evacuees.

The Prime Minister’s Office as the lead agency with the ministries of internal affairs, climate change, lands, justice and community services were chosen to act on behalf of the government to secure permanent settlement places by the end of May.

The response to the ash fall on Ambae is divided into three phases: (i) Short term - April to June; (ii) Intermediate - July to December, and long term - 2019 to 2020.

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