20 Mar 2015

Desperate situation in Vanuatu's outer islands

5:29 pm on 20 March 2015

People from Vanuatu's Shepherd Islands are painting a grim picture of their situation in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam.

Volunteers in Vanuatu store donated goods after Cyclone Pam.

Volunteers in Vanuatu store donated goods after Cyclone Pam. Photo: RNZ

The group of eight islands lies north of the capital Port Vila.

George Simone from Emae Island said families are living off any food they can find, and water supplies are running so low the men were giving their rations to the women and children.

Mr Simone said there are helicopters and planes flying over the island taking pictures but they have no idea when relief will arrive, and are struggling to contact the Government.

Further north on Ambrym Island, volunteer Richard Henderson said the 5000 there were facing a serious hunger problem.

Mr Henderson has been in Ambrym for the past couple of months and said they have been hit by an earthquake, tsunami and volcanic eruption in the past month.

He said acid rain from the volcanic eruption rotted all of their crops, and now Cyclone Pam has destroyed 98 percent of their fruit trees.

The Government has been criticised for its slow distribution of aid but said they were still assessing where resources should be sent.

Unicef spokesperson Alice Clements said a barge is leaving the capital, Port Vila, today with supplies for the Shepherd Islands.

Mrs Clements said the barge has been donated from a local business and loaded with 10,000 litres of drinking water and portable jerry cans.

She said it could take up to a week to get to all eight islands in the group.

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