18 Oct 2017

Vanuatu evacuees return to Ambae to be staggered

11:59 am on 18 October 2017

The Red Cross in Vanuatu says the return of evacuees to the volcanic island of Ambae is likely to staggered.

People being evacuated from Ambae.

People being evacuated from Ambae. Photo: Nixon Garae Tambeana

The aid agency has registered more than 2500 families for aid distribution on the neighbouring islands of Santo, Maewo and Pentecost, from more than 11,000 people evacuated from the island.

The state of emergency on Ambae has been extended until next week and the government said no one may return until it is lifted.

Red Cross spokesperson Shirley Johnson said a staggered repatriation would start with Ambae residents who live furthest from the volcano.

She said they were eager to return.

"Most of them are frustrated. They were asking about when are they getting back to the island, and if they do get back to the island who is going to look at their gardens food crops and animals to let them out. They want to know the answers to all their questions."

Shirley Johnson said there was still a shortage of clean clothes, blankets and sanitation facilities at evacuation centres.

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