Caritas Australia responds to emergencies across Fiji, Indonesia and Tonga

25 Jan 21

Natural disasters, including two cyclones and  an earthquake, have struck the Asia-Pacfic in recent months, with already vulnerable communities struggling to deal with displacement and upheaval, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Cyclones in Tonga and Fiji and a massive earthquake in Indonesia have stopped communities in their tracks.

We are on the ground across the region, working with our local partners to respond to the immediate and long-term needs of local communities.

 

Rebuilding after a cyclone in Fiji

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Damage in Fiji following recent weather events. Photo Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.

Over a month since Tropical Cyclone Yasa struck Fiji, over 16,000 people remain displaced, living in evacuation centres and temporary shelters.

The second strongest Tropical Cyclone in the South Pacific Basin made landfall on the island of  Vanua Levu on December 17th, killing four people, including a three-month old baby. 1500 houses were destroyed and 6000 damaged, with hundreds of people left homeless or needing to rebuild in the middle of the rainy season

The impact of the cyclone, which has also limited essential hygiene measures such as water access, also compounds the effects of COVID-19. Fiji has recorded 46 cases of COVID-19.

On top of this, extensive damage was also caused to crops, the main food source for many communities, with hundreds of families relying on food assistance for months to come while their crops are re-planted and grow. Many families who rely on crops for income are also struggling to pay for school fees for their children’s education, with those who were already facing poverty being the most impacted.   

Caritas Australia has been working with Caritas Fiji staff in the field to deliver immediate emergency support to communities including;

  • Counselling and psychosocial support.
  • Food security, in the form of food packages with rice and canned goods
  • Livelihood support in the form of toolkits and seeds for farmers, cash programming for people who have lost their crops which they would sell at market, and fishing gear for those living on smaller islands.

Caritas Australia with its partner Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, is channelling initial funds of $10,000AUD & $15,000NZD to deliver emergency hygiene/sanitary packages to 3,206 vulnerable people, spread across 84 shelters throughout Vanua Levu and northern Fiji.

Stand with survivors of this disaster.

Recovering from an earthquake in Indonesia

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Recovery from natural disasters is an ongoing challenge in Indonesia, as demonstrated by this recent photo of flood damage in South Kalimantan, Borneo. Photo: ABC

Over 73 people have been left dead and more than 826 injured after West Sulawesi was hit by an earthquake of magnitude 5.9 on Thursday January 14, and another earthquake of magnitude 6.2 on Friday, January 15.

There has been significant damage from the earthquakes, with over 300 houses and several key government buildings damaged, including two hospitals. Road access and communications were cut off in Mamuju district.

Caritas Australia’s partners are on the ground responding to the immediate needs of over 15,000 people who have been temporarily displaced.

The challenges of responding to the earthquake have been magnified by COVID-19, where the hospital system is already under strain. On Friday when the second earthquake hit, Indonesia reported over 12,000 new infections.

Families across the region are in urgent need of:

  • food
  • clean water
  • clothing
  • hygiene kits
  • blankets and mats
  • medical attention
  • personal protective equipment (PPE) and shelter.

Caritas Australia is supporting church and NGO partners on the ground with initial funds to support assessments and ensure that communities have shelter, food and clean water. 

Your support of these programs is forging a way to hope and recovery across Asia, and the Pacific.  

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