Fiji Government estimates almost 40% of country's population have been affected by the cyclone
Suva, 31 March, 2016 – More than a month after Cyclone Winston left a trail of destruction across Fiji, thousands of people are still in need of urgent assistance.
The Fiji Government estimates that almost 350,000 people – 40% of the country’s population – have been affected by the Category 5 storm, the strongest ever to hit Fiji.
“The Fiji Red Cross is working as fast as it can to help those most affected by this terrible storm. We have assisted more than 47,000 people so far, but there is still much more to do,” says Filipe Nainoca, Fiji Red Cross Society Director General.
Fiji Red Cross has 250 staff and volunteers distributing relief items such as blankets, tarpaulins, tools, and clothing. The main focus has been on providing emergency shelter materials and psychosocial support to survivors, as well as clean water, sanitation and non-food relief items.
Mr Nainoca says more funds are needed, both to meet immediate needs, and for what will be a long recovery period. “The Fiji Red Cross Cyclone Winston appeal aims to assist 50,000 people and has so far raised FJD$713,883, but the need is great. More than 60,000 people are homeless, and 100,000 more are living in homes that have been badly damaged.
“One hundred thousand people still do not have access to clean water and thousands have no toilets. We are going to be supporting some of those affected by the cyclone for the next year,” he says.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is also supporting the Fiji Red Cross operation on the ground and has launched a 7 million Swiss Franc international appeal (Euro 6.4 million. USD 7 million). The appeal is 22 per cent funded.
“Many people affected by the storm are showing great resilience. But this is the biggest disaster they’ve ever faced, and the psychological scars will be there for a long time. We will be alongside them as they recover, but need the world’s help to do that,” Nainoca says.
Following Cyclone Winston, the Government of Fiji declared a State of Natural Disaster which will be lifted on 19 April. The storm killed 44 people and damaged 32,000 houses, 500 schools and 88 health facilities.
To donate to the Fiji Red Cross Society Cyclone Winston appeal go to www.redcross.com.fj
To donate to the IFRC Cyclone Winston international appeal go to www.ifrc.org