12 Mar 2018

Vanuatu disaster office staff implicated in theft of relief items

3:37 pm on 12 March 2018

Police in Vanuatu are investigating staff at the National Disaster Office after aid items were stolen during the Ambae relief operation last year.

People being evacuated from Ambae.

People being evacuated from Ambae. Photo: Nixon Garae Tambeana

A massive aid operation swung into action in September when the entire island of Ambae was evacuated due to a volcanic eruption.

The Daily Post reported that a number of senior staff at the NDMO had been accused of stealing some of the items intended for that operation, as well as supplies donated for Cyclone Pam in 2015.

Police raids recovered items from several properties in Port Vila which belong to office staff.

Police were understood to be investigating the potential for similar theft of items from the National Disaster Office in outer provinces.

In a statement, the director general of climate change, Jesse Benjamin, said the ministry was putting in place stringent measures and procedures to prevent such incidents from happening again.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Climate Change Ham Lini apologised to the chiefs, church leaders and people of Vanuatu for the theft of disaster relief items.

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