Vanuatu Mobilises

Plans are in place to evacuate people out from Ambae, to safe sites on Maewo, Pentecost and Santo, if the Lombenben volcano situation gets worse.

The Director of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), Shadrack Welegtabit, made the assurance to cluster teams in their meeting yesterday. Volcanoes are unpredictable. Nobody knows what will happen next-whether the activity at Lombenben will decrease or will turn explosive, said Manager of the Geo-Hazards Department, Esline Garaebiti.

Ensuring everyone is safe in safer zones is the top priority,she said.

Onsite evacuation on the island is ongoing and people will be cleared out of the evacuation centers however, if the activity continues to intensify and reaches the highest level, said Director Welegtabit.

Almost 300 final year students (Years 8, 10, 12 and 13) will be evacuated to boarding schools on Santo.

According to the Education Cluster Team, they would be evacuated starting this weekend before mock exams next week.

Students must not be deprived of education, for more than two weeks, according to the education policy.

The cluster teams from education, health, food, water and hygiene, shelter, gender and protection presented their short and long-term action plans to the inter-cluster meeting chaired by the NDMO Director yesterday.

It was reported that some evacuees are sleeping under trees due to overcrowded evacuation centers and are taking goods from local

shops on credit due to food shortage.

They (evacuees, particularly the young men) upon reaching the evacuation centers have to go the garden to collect food but wear head covers to protect themselves from ash fall.

The Food Cluster Team has assured it is working with the Department of Agriculture to collect and store local food and standard relief food as rice and canned food enough for everyone .It includes fruits and vegetables.

The Director of NDMO warned the cluster teams about food safety -reminder not to give food contaminated by ash fall including water, which is in short supply.

The Water and Hygiene Cluster Team is confident clean water will be provided with support of partners until such time evacuates return home.

The team confirmed water tracking on east Ambae is underway.

Multi-taps will be restored and existing water storage will be used as refill stations.

A team will be deployed to deliver hygiene kits based on WASH standards, test water quality and install temporary toilets at evacuation centers at a ratio of 1 toilet for 30 female/males.

About 2, 000 households were displaced following the eruption.

Regarding shelter, 100 tents have been shipped transported to Ambae as part of the first national relief shipment on Tuesday this week.

Most shipping agencies are on standby to take needed food, shelter and non-food items to Ambae, the Logistic Team told the NDMO Director.

A barge will leave Port Vila today (Thursday) with water, food, shelter, hygiene including specialists to support the evacuation centers.

Regarding health concerns, medical supplies will be brought in from Santo and a team has been deployed to assist in the evacuation centers.

According to the Health Cluster Team,the Penama Surveillance Unit will be activated to monitor disease outbreaks.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister (PM) on his return to the country yesterday has been briefed on the volcano’s activity after the cluster meeting.

Following this briefing, the Council of Ministers (COM) is expected to meet today (Thursday).

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