60,000 children in need of immediate assistance after Cyclone Pam

Tens of thousands of children are in urgent need of assistance in Vanuatu after tropical Cyclone Pam ripped through the island.

UNICEF New Zealand Executive Director, Vivien Maidaborn, said, “Our biggest concern continues to be for the estimated 60,000 children in Vanuatu affected by this crisis.

“While the cyclone has passed, further threats around health, nutrition, safety and schooling continue to loom on the horizon.”

The category 5 super storm hit late on Friday night (13 March) and continued into the early hours of Saturday morning, leaving children at particular risk.

“It felt like the world was coming to an end,” said UNICEF’s Alice Clements, one of UNICEF’s staff members who was in the capital, Port Vila, when the storm hit.

“The winds were incredibly strong, ripping off roofs, destroying homes and damaging hospitals and schools. Countless homes have been torn apart and communities have been left in ruins.”

Access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities has been disrupted in many places in Vanuatu, including in evacuation centres, leading to high risks of water-borne and vector–borne diseases. UNICEF is supporting the Government and working with partners to provide water containers, purification tablets, soap and temporary toilets or latrines.