Emergency relief to evacuees on Santo stopped as state of emergency ends

People being evacuated from Ambae in September 2017. Photo: YumiToktok

PORT VILA, 28 NOVEMBER 2018 (VANUATU DAILY POST) – The Vanuatu Government will stop providing emergency relief, particularly food supply to Ambae evacuees on Santo now that the State of Emergency (SoE) has ended, said the Director of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), Abraham Nasak.

“The movement of evacuees to Santo has always been considered as voluntary,” he said. “The families chose to rebuild livelihoods at their own cost when they voluntarily moved there.

“The government will now focus mostly on meeting the long-term needs of those displaced on Maewo through the Maewo Response and Recovery Plan.

“However, we are aware of issues affecting evacuees on Santo as a result of the evacuation such as shelter, health, water and sanitation. These problems will be addressed through the normal government service delivery.

“The Maewo Response and Recovery Plan which outlines immediate, intermediate and long-term requirements for the second home concept does not cover Santo,” he said.

The recovery plan is yet to be approved by the Council of Ministers (COM).

It covers the renovation of Loltong site on Pentecost to carter for the Penama Provincial Headquarter, including the upgrade of existing water systems in north Pentecost that were affected by Lombenben ash, said Director Nasak.

Nasak encouraged the evacuees to exercise caution when they return home since the volcano on their island is still active.

“It is very hard to predict volcanic eruptions. The volcano went through a series of eruptive events throughout a year.

“It’s latest eruption was recorded lately, on October 30. The volcano is still not at rest when it is at Alert Level 2, experiencing the major unrest level”, he added.

The focus is now on the transition from immediate to long-term recovery stage.

“Key messages of response and recovery after November 26 are being prepared and will be distributed to relevant authorities soon”, he conveyed.

According to Director Nasak, the COM  was expected to meet Tuesdayto discuss the recommendations submitted by the Ministry of Climate Change on the Ambae situation.

Meanwhile, the new President of the Malvatumauri, Chief Willie Grey Plasua says his Council has resolved to request the Government not to extend the State of Emergency over Ambae..

The Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs passed the resolution passed the resolution in its first Council Meeting since its election, based on a formal request by the chiefs of the people of Ambae now on Maewo, Santo and Port Vila.

As the overall Head of all custom chiefs throughout Vanuatu, Chief Plasua says he is aware of reports of suffering by the evacuees who wish to return home as soon as possible if allowed, to check on their houses, animals, gardens and businesses.

A total of 7,000 Ambaeans are on Santo, approximately 2,000 on Maewo and over 1,000 in Port Vila. “I know they are suffering as some are elderly and some hardworking Ambaeans have no means of making money where they are today while they were entrepreneurs on their own island”, he says.

“May I ask the Government not to extend the State of Emergency but to allow them to return home to check on their properties, houses, gardens and animals then return to the second homes on Maewo and Santo and Port Vila if the Manaro Volcano continues to play up”.

Chief Plasua is the newly elected President of Malvatumauri from Gaua in Torba Province.

Elected through legal process prepared by Ministry of Justice, Chief Plasua wishes to thank the Government through the Ministry of Justice, for his successful election through custom.

The Chief was successfully elected thorough the processes through the Area Council to Island Council then the National Council. The customary electoral process was effected through consensus for the first time.

“I am satisfied that all Provinces agreed for Torba to take the position of Head of the Malvatumauri.

“I wish to express my gratitude to the Government for its role in the process all along towards my successful election through custom”, he says.

“I also wish to say thank you to the Chief Executive Officer of Malvatumauri,Jean Pierre Tom and his staff for their administrative role in ensuring the success story of the electoral process, which finally landed me here in this prestigious post as the President of the Malvatumauri,” he said.

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