16 Oct 2017

Repatriating Ambae evacuees will be a challenge, Unicef

6:28 am on 16 October 2017

The head of Unicef in Vanuatu says there will be serious logistical challenges in planning the return to Ambae.

The island's 11,000 people were evacuated last month when the island's volcano started erupting, covering much of the island in ash and killing crops.

The evacuees are currently in evacuation centres on the nearby islands of Santo, Maewo and Pentecost.

The government last week extended the state of emergency for another fortnight, but with the volcano settling down, a repatriation to Ambae could occur within a month.

Unicef's Andrew Parker said the government is working tirelessly to plan for what will be another major challenge.

"The government wishes to ensure an orderly process of return. There are obviously concerns of self-return in an unregulated way back to an island that is effectively unpopulated."

"The question of personal effects and, of course, livestock being a sensitive issue," he said.

People being evacuated from Ambae.

People being evacuated from Ambae. Photo: Nixon Garae Tambeana