Fiji Red Cross aid reaches cyclone-devastated islands


The Fiji Red Cross today expressed deep concern about the well-being of thousands of people left without access to clean water following Cyclone Ami which devastated much of the archipelago on Monday last with wind speeds of up to 185 km/h (115 mph).

The Director General of the Fiji Red Cross, Alison Cupit, back in the capital, Suva, following a visit to one of the worst-affected islands, Vanualevu, said: "People are traumatized. There is a desperate need for fresh water in many parts which have experienced flooding. We are stepping up our relief efforts to reach an additional 40,000 people. We will be bringing fresh water supplies in over the weekend."

So far the Fiji Red Cross through a network of 1,000 volunteers has assisted 20,850 people. This included four five-tonne truckloads of relief items which were sent by ferry from Suva to Vanualevu over the last two days for distribution. Assistance includes emergency family packs comprising clothing, cooking utensils, blankets, hygiene items and polythene sheeting for shelter and the collection of rain water.

A priority item now is water purification tablets. Cupit said the Fiji Red Cross has distributed 7,000 water purification tablets in the last couple of days and was expecting an additional stock of 200,000 from the Australian government over the weekend. The focus of the Red Cross relief effort is on the islands of Vanualevu, Tavenuni and Rabi which have a total population of over 200,000.

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