(photo credit: ISRAAID)
Continuing its emergency response to the dire situation inflicted on the small Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, IsraAID will dispatch more of its teams to the ravaged archipelago.
According to an IsraAID spokesperson, the organization deployed to Eratap on Sunday, surveying the devastation and meeting the local chief. Members arrived at the capital of Port Vila as well in order to coordinate with government officials and UN agencies.
Vanuatu, a former French colony with a population under 300,000, was struck by a category 5 tropical cyclone, dubbed Pam, on March 13.
"The cyclone howled so strongly, our children were terrified," one Eratap local named Mac recalled. Mac, with his spouse Katie and their two children fled their home, finding shelter in a nearby church where they tried to escape the 320 kph winds that collapsed their home and other buildings in the village.
As the storm bore down on Vanuatu, a state of emergency was subsequently declared and the President, Baldwin Lonsdale began diplomatic overtures seeking international help for the country's displaced and devastated.
"I stand to appeal on behalf of the government and people of Vanuatu to the global community to give a lending hand in responding to these very current calamities that have struck us."
According to IsraAID,"The situation is becoming a race against the clock to save the lives of thousands dying of starvation and thirst."
One representative from Tongoa, an island north of the capital to where the IsraAID team will depart on Monday, expressed the dire lack of supplies and claimed that three children had died in a single night.
The most basic of needs, including potable water and food, remain a priority, especially given the remote nature of the archipelago's geography where people are isolated on various far flung islands.
"There are so many islands here, it's a logistical nightmare," said Yotam, the head of the IsraAID mission."The best thing we can do right now is respond to each appeal as it comes and try and reach as many people as possible. Time is against us but we will do whatever we can to help."