Vanuatu's Traditional Chiefs Consider Long-Term Displacement Of Ambae People

Nagriamel offers to assist government to make situation better for families evacuated due to volcano

By Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Oct. 6, 2017) – “We must make them feel welcome but most importantly feel at home on Santo, Maewo and Pentecost. We want the children to be happy in their totally new environment and so the women as well as men and the elderly men and women. The support needed here has to be as close as possible to the environment they have left back on one of our islands, which is Ambae.

“So the Nagriamel wants to see the children moving freely in an environment of playing games with other children, the women using traditional cooking facilities like back home and the young men and women also involve in sports, church or other youths activities like back at home and so other member groups of our Ambae families.

“The Nagriamel therefore calls on the Custom Chiefs, the Churches, Women and Youth Groups in the Islands and Communities where our Ambae families at living now to work closely with the national government, the Vanuatu Christian Council, Youth and Sports Councils, various Church denominations to realize these program of engagements for our Ambae families,” The Nagriamel National Spokesman Jeff Patunvanu said.

While providing its views to the national government on suggestions to make the people of Ambae feel more at home, the Nagriamel Movement said it would be good for the national government to let everyone know how long is it likely that the people of Ambae will be living away from their island, though everyone knows it is unpredictable with the volcanic activities, except with the advice of the volcanologists.

[PIR editor's note: On Oct. 6, 2017 RNZI reported that 'The alert level for Vanuatu's Ambae has been downgraded, with signs the island's volcano is settling. ... The order was made to evacuate last week when the alert was raised to level 4 - the second-highest - and the volcano was raining ash across much of the island. ... The manager of the Geohazards Department, Esline Garaebiti, said while the volcano was still erupting, it appeared to be stabilising.']

“The reason that the Nagriamel is posing the question to the national government is, if we have an indication of a period, for example, three or six months or more then the Nagriamel Movement will be willing to sit down with the national government and look at land arrangements where the families from Ambae can be allocated to plant crops, raise livestock, provide places to build temporary homes, children’s playground, traditional cooking kitchens for women for preparing traditional family meals, temporary church gathering buildings as well as sports arenas for the young people and children to play games and such other activities that they would normally do back on our home island of Ambae,” Patunvanu, explained.

“Nagriamel understands that it is not an easy decision to make, especially with the unpredictable volcanic behavior, the national government and everyone have and are doing the best to ensure the safety of our families from Ambae.

“At the same time, Nagriamel offers its assistance to the Ambae families through the national government and prepare to sit down and discuss the best short and long term ways in humanitarian terms of accommodation, education, health, economic, cultural and social ways of life that the Ambae families will find life almost similar to that back on the Island they left behind and for how long.

“The Nagriamel has families and members in Santo and Malekula that will be willing to provide both short and long term assistance to the families from Ambae and prepare to work closely with the national government in these directions for our Ambae families,” he concluded.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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