Vanuatu Begins Evacuation Of Ambae Island

Over 6,000 children, women and families are trapped in evacuation centers, homeless and in need of humanitarian assistance, this is roughly 70% of Ambae's population

By Anita Roberts

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, September 29, 2017) – The Government is moving the entire population of Ambae out to neighbouring islands of Pentecost, Maewo, Santo and Malekula amid fears of an imminent eruption as Lombenben's volcanic crisis continues.

People have begun fleeing their homes, having told to bring few belongings leaving behind their gardens and livestock with clouds of gas and ash engulfing their villages.

Over 6,000 children, women and families are trapped in evacuation centers, homeless and in need of humanitarian assistance.

This is roughly 70% of Ambae population.The displaced families came from villages in west and south, which are most populated.

Shelters, food and water were about to be send to the volcano affected island when the government declared immediate evacuation for the entire island yesterday.

Approximately 2, 000 households in evacuation centers and families on other parts of Ambae thought safe away from the volcano must be removed out from the island by Friday, October 6.

The government has offered two public land on Pentecost; Loltong and Lonororoe in south Pentecost to initially house evacuees and the Penama Emergency Operation Centre.

Evacuation of 283 students to schools on Ambae have already begun and soon to begin for other islands as Santo.

To find other safe places for the affected families, the Ministries of Land and Internal Affairs (MOIA) have been instructed by the Council of Ministers (CoM) to identify some plots of land on Maewo, Pentecost and Santo and begin land acquisition process immediately.

Mass evacuation is needed for people’s safety, said Prime Minister (PM), Charlot Salwai.

“Lombenben volcanic activity continues to increase but so far not showing a good sign," he said in a briefing to journalists after the CoM. "It is impossible to predict whether it will increase or decrease like with cyclones.

“It is better to rescue people and save lives now than get blamed later when worse happens."

The PM said the government would need more money, apart from the Vt200million disaster provision to find safe temporary dwellings and meet their needs until such time they return back home.

It’s very important for NDMO to keep a good recording on the total number of evacuees and where they are staying on each islands to ensure they get needy food, water and appropriate sanitation facilities, said the PM.

NDMO is taking immediate action to rescue the people and coordinate relief efforts with the support of the Penama Provincial Disaster and Climate Change Committee.

On Tuesday this week, the CoM declared a state of emergency and announced emergency funds for the needy communities.

A second CoM meeting was convened following a briefing between NDMO, the Ministry of Disaster Management with the PM yesterday,leading to the mass evacuation declaration.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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