Fiji Disaster Office: Some More Remote Areas Still Inaccessible

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Despite helicopter deliveries, 20% of impacted area have no rations

By Losalini Bolatagici

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, March 8, 2016) – The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) yesterday admitted that some areas affected by Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston were yet to be assisted because of inaccessibility.

While initial plan was to have the remaining 20 per cent of the affected area assisted by the end of last week into early this week, NDMO director Akapusi Tuifagalele said they had received updates from the divisions that it was difficult getting into some remote areas.

Areas that are yet to be accessed, according to him, are the hinterlands and interior of the Western Division.

Mr Tuifagalele said those areas that had yet to be assisted were expected to be covered by this week.

[PIR editor’s note: On March 8, 2016 Fijilive reported that ‘The number of evacuation centres and people taking shelter in them around the country have dropped and authorities are encouraging evacuees to start the cleaning up and rebuilding process. … A total of 620 evacuation centres are currently open around the country with a total of 20,015 evacuees and the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) is expecting the numbers to drop further today and in the coming days.’]

He said while they were using the helicopters provided by Australia and New Zealand to distribute ration, their carriage capacity was limited which was also another factor contributing to the delay.

"The carriage capacity — they are not as big as trucks, they can carry tonnes," Mr Tuifagalele said.

"Some of those can carry hundreds of kilograms.

"That is why the hinterlands are difficult to serve, but we continue to serve them knowing that we need to complete the distribution in those areas that are still not accessible by the divisional commissioners."

The NDMO says 80 per cent of areas have been provided rations.

[PIR editor’s note: On March 8, 2016 Fijilive reported that ‘A total of 23 schools around the country remain closed as authorities are working around the clock to clean up and get the school premises ready for classes. National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) Director, Mr Akapusi Tuifagalele said a total of 109 were re-opened for classes yesterday and they are hoping to have the remaining schools ready for classes by the end of the week.’]

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