Vanuatu Prime Minister Cancels Overseas Trip To Comfort Ambae Evacuees

Salwai takes trip to camps on Pentecost, Santo

By Royson Willie

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Oct. 6, 2017) – Prime Minister Charlot Salwai had to cancel an overseas trip to an ICT conference, which he was supposed to address on Sunday, to instead visit the people of Ambae that have been evacuated to Sanma and Penama Provinces.

Public Relations Officer, Hilaire Bule, said the Prime Minister first went to Pentecost, then Santo on his two-day visit.

On Pentecost Mr Salwai visited four evacuation centres that included Baravet, Waterfall, Melsisi and another nearby village that hosted the evacuees but could not visit Pangi due to time constraints.

Pentecost was supposed to accommodate 3,000 evacuees but only just over 300 Ambaeans are on the island.

On Santo Salwai visited the Ambae evacuees at Chapuis stadium, Church of the Latter-day Saints (hosting mostly the disabled and elderly), Sarakata Anglican Church, Mango, Saint Michel, Apostolic Church, Banban Church of Christ, Vunamele Church of Christ and at the Chiefs Nakamal.

No visit was made to a more organized Maewo island due to limited time available.

The PM was accompanied by the Director General of Climate Change, Mr Jesse Benjamin and the Geo-hazards Division Manager, Esline Bule. Both explained to the people the current situation of the volcano.

Former state minister and Ambae's high chief, Jacques Sese, thanked the prime minister for the decision taken by the government to evacuate the people. He said it was the right decision to take the "prevention" measure. 

In return Salwai thanked the people of Ambae for accepting and respecting the Council of Ministers decision and pledged the government's commitment to look after them until their return.

He thanked the Santo, Maewo and Pentecost chiefs, community leaders and church leaders for hosting the people of Ambae.

As to the question of return, PRO Bule says the government will have to rely on the advise of the geo-hazard experts before it can make further orders.

But the people of Ambae have been told of expecting to live in the future with an active volcano similar to Yasur on Tanna and Benbow and Marum on Ambrym.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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