2017 News

Vanuatu Emergency Update: Evacuation

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

We have evacuated Ambae and now on Santo. The peak of evacuees has now passed and everybody is very tired, but continuing to manage the ships/planes as they arrive. I think that they've easily dealt with more than 7,000 people in a space of 3-4 days. A great achievement. Just had a shipload of hospital patients & disabled/elderly come through from Lolowai hospital. Some transferred straight to the hospital here, others to the Mormon centre. Londua students are boarding at Lycée de Luganville (Santo). Lycée is hosting both Londua & Navutariki Schools - a great achievement. Studies continue (see photo below). All are feeling very tired, but continuing on. Will update again, but volcano is still deteriorating. 
- Peter Bryant (Principal Londua Technical College, Ambae)

Studies continue at Lycée. Photo: Peter Bryant.

The government has now ordered everybody to move out from Ambae Island. Provincial officers and some other members of the police supervised the evacuation. As of October 4, people have been moved from Ambae to Pentecost (400+), Maewo (200+) Santo and Port Vila. Santo has taken in between 6,000 and 7,000 people. We are yet to sort out the data on those currently in Port Vila. 

Photo: Food being served at Vunamele Church of Christ. Photo courtesy of Santo Ambae Disaster Support Community.

It seems the quick evacuation was done without enough resources to cater for the number of displaced. At the Chapui Stadium on Santo, they had enough room to keep the women and children inside while some men have been sleeping out in the open. Two Ambae community committees on Vila and Santo quickly stepped in to assist the authorities, although we are not sure how far our resources will keep us going.

Elder James Aru (Director of Department of Church Development) with some elderly evacuees. Photo: Peter Bryant.

I am praying and hoping the volcano does not erupt and that the people’s lives can return to normal. The young children need fed properly and to go back to school. Currently the authorities are concentrating on the high school students and no plans yet for the younger ones.

Our CCCV church work within Vanuatu has been supported by the people from Ambae. If this tragedy or displacement of this tribe continues, it will greatly affect the future of our work nationally. The total number of people displaced from around 30 churches on Ambae is a big number. Everyone from Ambae is affected, including all religions. Relatives not living on the island are also affected, as they must now support families who have been evacuated.

We will continue to need the support of prayers from our partners and friends at this critical time. I thank you sincerely for your support during this time.

Will give more updates later on.

Esline Toamavute 
General Secretary of Churches of Christ Conference in Vanuatu (CCCV) 


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