Pacific Humanitarian Team deploying to support Solomon Islands flash flood response
(Suva, 7 April 2014): The Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) has begun deployments to Honiara today in support of the Government’s response to flash floods which have devastated the capital and provinces in the Solomon Islands.
Heavy rain from a tropical depression caused severe flooding in Honiara after the Mataniko River burst its banks, washing away homes and bridges. The Government has confirmed 21 deaths, but the toll is expected to rise, with around 30 people still missing. There are over 50,000 people affected across the country and an estimated 10,000 sheltering in evacuation centres.
Ms Osnat Lubrani, UN Resident Coordinator for the Solomon Islands and co-chair of the PHT, is in Honiara to meet with the Government, donors and humanitarian partners to determine where PHT expertise and supplies are most needed.
“We express our deepest sympathies to the Government and people of the Solomon Islands for the loss of life and destruction of homes and infrastructure,” said Ms Lubrani. “We are committed to working with the Government across all response areas, including coordination, shelter, health, water and sanitation.”
The worst-hit Honiara and other areas of Guadalcanal Province have been declared a disaster zone. A request for PHT assistance was received by the Government on 5 April, including a request for coordination support from OCHA. Sune Gudnitz, Head of OCHA Regional Office for the Pacific is in Honiara and said the situation requires urgent funding and support.
“Our immediate priority is to address the humanitarian needs of the thousands of people displaced in emergency shelters,” said Mr Gudnitz. “Funds are needed to assist the affected population, who are from some of the poorest urban and remote communities of the country.”
Honiara International Airport reopened to commercial flights yesterday, enabling the movement of aid workers and supplies. Over 15 members of the PHT will deploy to Honiara in coming days to work with Government ministeries, donor countries and humanitarian partners.
The PHT was set-up by OCHA in 2008 to ensure a regional responders work together in Pacific disasters. The PHT is a partnership of UN agencies, Red Cross, regional and bilateral organizations, national and international non-government organizations, faith- and community-based organizations and donors.
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