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Vanuatu volcano emergency

A volcano on Vanuatu’s Ambae Island continues to erupt rocks and ash, as Save the Children staff help authorities evacuate the last residents.
10 March 2017
Country Director Georgia Tacey said about 32 evacuation centres have been established on the island of Santo, with many more being established on the islands of Penticost and Maewo in the coming days, housing roughly 10,000 people.

“We have a team on Santo, where the vast majority of evacuees are now sheltering. People are stressed, tired and anxious as they wait to find out where will they will call home over the coming weeks and months.”

She said while the alert has now reportedly stabilised at level 4 – one below the highest level – Save the Children staff remain vigilant and still have concerns about the ongoing impacts of the emergency on children and their families.

“One of our primary concerns is that children could miss out on education – particularly as many schools are now being used as evacuation centres.

“We support the Ministry of Education’s call to keep children learning, whether that’s in schools or temporary alternative spaces. This is particularly critical for senior students who are preparing for their final exams.”

She said people’s livelihoods are also under threat.

“Many people have had to abandon their crops and livestock. With little water on the island and volcanic ash raining down, they have no idea what they will find on their return.”

Ms Tacey said Save the Children teams would launch their response on Santo tomorrow.

“We will be running child friendly spaces – safe places in the evacuation centres where children can relax, form a routine and be stimulated with learning and play activities - which is critical for psychosocial wellbeing and early recovery of children. We’ll also be handing out kits with sanitary and hygiene products to prevent outbreaks of illness and support the dignity of women who are in a highly stressful situation.”

For interviews call Alex Sampson on 0429 943 027.

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