Pacific / Vanuatu

Australia gives more volcano aid to Vanuatu

16:36 pm on 7 May 2018

Further humanitarian assistance to Vanuatu to help it respond to the latest volcanic eruption on Ambae Island has been announced by the Australian government.

The Ambae volcano Photo: Supplied/ Brad Scott

Heavy ashfall has covered parts of the island after fresh eruption activity last month left buildings collapsed, water supplies contaminated and food crops destroyed.

Thousands of people have been relocated to safer parts on the island.

Vanuatu's government, which declared a state of emergency last month, is considering permanently evacuating Ambae.

The Australian government said it was providing $US230,000 to support the government's evacuation plans, with a particular focus on the needs of women, children and people with disabilities.

The funding would go towards emergency supplies including shelter tool kits, hygiene kits and tents to assist people in temporary relocation sites, it said.

The aid was additional to $US2.4 million that Australia provided for the first evacuation of Ambae last October.

It would also provide essential reproductive healthcare, including birthing kits and emergency obstetric and newborn care, the Australian government said.

A disaster risk management expert and logistics officer from Australia were currently supporting the Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office to plan an evacuation, it said.

An Australian resettlement expert would be deployed later this month to support relocation efforts.

Australia was working closely with the government of Vanuatu and partners, including New Zealand and France, to support affected communities, it said.

Last week, the New Zealand Defence Force delivered 23 tonnes of emergency aid for Vanuatu's volcano evacuees, included hygiene kits, tarpaulins, mother-and-infant kits and shelter toolkits.

LAC Zinzan Currey unloads water containers from a RNZAF Boeing 757 at Bauerfield Airport, Port Vila, Vanuatu, part of an 11 tonne delivery of relief supplies for Ambae Island. Photo: NZDF