United Nations and Pacific Humanitarian Team stand beside Fiji as it responds to TC Winston

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 22 Feb 2016

Suva, 22 February 2016

The United Nations and the Pacific Humanitarian Team have expressed their support for the people of Fiji and Fiji Government as they begin the massive task of responding to Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Winston.

“The images emerging from early aerial assessments of affected areas are truly heartbreaking, leaving little doubt about the ferocity of this cyclone,” United Nations Resident Coordinator in Fiji Osnat Lubrani said.

“It is clear from these catastrophic impacts that Fiji is facing a long road to recovery and the United Nations and the entire Pacific Humanitarian Team stands should-to-shoulder with the Government as they begin this enormous task.”

On 20 and 21 February Category 5 Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston cut a path of destruction across Fiji’s islands blowing off roofs, bringing down trees and powerlines, and flooding rivers. At its peak, the Cyclone was forecast by the Fiji Met Service to have sustained winds of 230 kmph, gusting to 325 kmph making it one of the most severe cyclones ever to hit the South Pacific. A total of 17 people have been confirmed dead and thousands remain in emergency shelters as authorities work to restore power and water to communities across the country.

The Fiji Government is leading the response. A 30 day State of Natural Disaster has been declared and this morning the Fiji Government made an official request for international assistance.

“In response to this official call, the United Nations and the Pacific Humanitarian Team are reaching out to the Government to determine what expertise and support they need, including in coordination of humanitarian assistance,” Ms Lubrani said.

“Government assessments have begun and these will give a clearer picture of where people are most in need. Help is already on its way to the Lomaiviti Group which was in the eye of the cyclone and suffered catastrophic impacts. In one village on the island of Koro, every single house and community building has been destroyed.”

The Pacific Humanitarian Team, based in Suva, coordinates expert human resources and relief supplies regionally and globally should the impacts of a disaster exceed a government’s capacity to respond.

For further information, please contact: Danielle Parry, Public Information Officer, UNOCHA Regional Office Pacific (ROP), Suva, Email: parryd@un.org Mobile: +679 777 1433

Situation reports and other materials related to the TC Winston response are available on UNOCHA’s Humanitarian Response Info page

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.