18 March 2015 – Unicef is dispatching emergency life-saving supplies to communities in cyclone-affected Tuvalu. The archipelago nation comprised of nine islands with a population of about 11,000 people has declared a state of emergency, following tidal surges caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam.
Initial reports from Tuvalu suggest that Nui, and to a lesser extent other islands, have been severely hit with storm surges that have inundated houses, undermined building foundations, flooded food sources and killed livestock. Water reserves on the worst impacted islands are seriously affected as water tanks have been damaged. Many government health clinics and private shops, along with their stocks, have been damaged or destroyed.
“Assessment data shows that 42 per cent of households in the northern islands of Tuvalu were seriously affected by flooding from tidal surges,” Unicef Pacific Representative, Dr. Karen Allen, said. “These supplies will help to meet their immediate health needs in the coming days.”
The supplies, which will be airlifted from Fiji and will arrive in Tuvalu on 19 March, include basic health kits, 1,000 packs of water purification tablets and vitamin A capsules.
The health kits contain medicines and medical supplies for up to 10,000 people, while the water purification tablets will help ensure safe water for children and prevent diseases such as diarrhoea, intestinal worms and typhoid. Vitamin A can boost children’s immune systems and increase their resistance to disease, improving their chances for survival, growth and development.
While maintaining focus on the hardest-hit island of Vanuatu, Unicef remains committed to providing support and assistance to affected communities throughout the region. Presently, there are around 89 Unicef staff spread across Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and more people are on their way to help with the emergency.
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