$30m appeal launched amid Vanuatu devastation

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Vanuatu suffered landslides from previous cyclones as recently as March 2014. Photo: Vanuatu Humanitarian Team/OCHA

An estimated 166,000 people are in need of help in Vanuatu 11 days after Cyclone Pam struck, the UN said Tuesday, as it launched a near $30 million appeal for aid.

Critical food and water shortages are just two of the problems facing victims of the natural disaster as they start to leave evacuation centres in Vanuatu, UN coordinating agency OCHA said.

Humanitarian workers said that providing lifesaving assistance remains difficult in some areas where 90 per cent of shelters have been wiped out and roads remain impassable.

Daniel Johnson has more:

More than half of Vanuatu's population is in need of urgent assistance across the scattered island nation, according to UN figures.

Children's agency UNICEF said that 82,000 children need access to clean water and vaccines.

And UN humanitarian coordinating agency OCHA said that more than 90 per cent of shelters were destroyed by the cyclone, which was one of the worst ever to hit land.

The provinces of Shefa and Tafea were the hardest hit and food is running out.

Here's OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke:

"The top priority of the appeal is to provide lifesaving assistance such as food, water, healthcare and shelter to people across all the affected areas…but also to help people recover their livelihoods and re-establish basic services, such as education."

In all, 22 islands out of the more than 80 that together make up Vanuatu need help.

UNICEF said that children in the most inaccessible islands were "in serious danger" of disease amid acute water shortages almost everywhere.

UN partner IOM meanwhile said that it was seeking $1 million to help people plant crops to replace the extensive damage done by the cyclone.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1'05"

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