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    Debris is scattered over a building in Port Vila, Vanuatu, Saturday, March 14, 2015, in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam

    UN Humanitarian Office Sends Assessment Team to Cyclone-Hit Vanuatu

    © AFP 2019 / 350.org, Isso Nihemi
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    The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs announced that it had sent an assessment team to Vanuatu, the country hit by a tropical Pam cyclone.

    UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) — The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) sent an assessment team to Vanuatu, the country hit by a tropical Pam cyclone, the OCHA said in a statement Saturday.

    “A disaster of this magnitude has not been experienced by Vanuatu in recent history – particularly in terms of the reach of the potential damage and the ferocity of the storm. While we have no official reports of the damage the cyclone caused, the Pacific Humanitarian Team is ready to support a government-led response to a worst-case scenario,” said Sune Gudnitz, Head of OCHA's Regional Office for the Pacific, in a statement published on OCHA's website.

    Tropical Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila on March 13. Winds reached 150 mph with gusts peaking at around 200, causing damage to infrastructure, impacting services such as electricity and leaving debris strewn across the capital, the OCHA statement said.

    According to The Guardian, dozens are feared dead as the cyclone caused landslides, sea surges and flooding.

    The cyclone is now tracking toward northern New Zealand.

    The OCHA said that the Vanuatu Government has not yet issued a formal request for international assistance. The country, however, has accepted OCHA’s offer to deploy staff to support the coordination of the response.

    The UN’s Disaster Assessment and Coordination team is expected to arrive in Port Villa on March 15.


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