Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific

European Union brings relief to the victims of Ambae volcanic eruption in Vanuatu

Suva, Fiji, 09/05/2018 - 03:44, UNIQUE ID: 180509_1
Press releases

Suva, Fiji 09 May 2018 – Following the eruption of the Ambae volcano, in the northern part of Vanuatu, the European Union is providing €120 000 (VUV 15988 416) to channel emergency assistance to the affected communities. The aid will directly benefit up to 5 000 people in some of the worst-hit areas in southern and eastern parts of Ambae Island, including Santo, Maewo, and Pentecost.

This EU-funding supports the Vanuatu Red Cross Society (VRCS) in delivering live-saving aid through the distribution of essential relief items, such as tarpaulins, shelter tool kits, sleeping mats, blankets, kitchen sets, solar lights, mosquito nets, and hygiene kits. To reduce the immediate health risks in evacuation centres, awareness activities will also be conducted on water filtration, hygiene promotion, and epidemic control. In addition, psycho-social support will be provided to displaced people, and a cash transfer programme will be initiated through the supply of pre-paid phone credit vouchers to support maintenance of family links and family support.


The funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).


The increased seismic activity on Ambae Island has so far resulted in the displacement of at least 1 400 people, many of whom are seeking shelter in evacuation centres. On 18th March, authorities had raised the volcano alert status to level 3 after an eruption triggered emissions of gas clouds and heavy volcanic ash falls, causing houses, local structures and trees to collapse under the weight of the ash. Water sources have also been contaminated and food gardens destroyed. The situation prompted the government to declare a three-month state of emergency on 12th April. The number of affected populations is expected to increase.


The European Union together with its Member States is the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity towards people in need around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises. The European Commission through its European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) helps over 120 million victims of conflicts and disasters every year. For more information, please visit ECHO's website.


The European Commission has signed a EUR 3 million humanitarian contribution agreement with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). Funds from the DREF are mainly allocated to “small-scale” disasters – those that do not give rise to a formal international appeal.


The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund was established in 1985 and is supported by contributions from donors. Each time a National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society needs immediate financial support to respond to a disaster, it can request funds from the DREF. For small-scale disasters, the IFRC allocates grants from the Fund, which can then be replenished by the donors. The contribution agreement between the IFRC and ECHO enables the latter to replenish the DREF for agreed operations (that fit in with its humanitarian mandate) up to a total of EUR 3 million.


For further information, please contact:

Pierre Prakash, Regional Information Officer for Asia and the Pacific, European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO):

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