• On 20 and 21 February Category 5 Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston cut a path of destruction across Fiji.
• The cyclone is estimated to be one of the most severe ever to hit the South Pacific.
• The Fiji Government estimates almost 350,000 people living in the cyclone’s path could have been affected – 180,000 men and 170 000 women.
• 41 people have been confirmed dead.
• 131 people are injured.
• Aid has begun arriving in cyclone affected communities, especially the hard hit outer islands and Rakiraki in the West.
• Almost 50,000 people are currently sheltering in nearly 800 evacuation centres.
• Damage to agriculture is estimated to be US$61 million with 100 per cent of crops destroyed in the worst affected areas.
• At least 117 schools have been damaged • A 30 day State of Natural Disaster has been declared.
The scale of the task ahead is becoming clearer with the Fiji Government now estimating almost 350,000 people may have been affected by the cyclone, around a third of them children. Analysis of imagery produced from aerial surveillance flights has confirmed that the worst affected areas are: Northern Lau Group, the south and east coast of Taveuni, the south coast of Vanua Levu (Savusavu, Nasonisoni and Nabouwalu), Koro Island, Ovalau, Naigani and north east Viti Levu. Relief supplies, including food rations, are now starting to reach these areas through the coordinated efforts of National Clusters, NGOs, the Red Cross, and military assets from Fiji, Australia, France and New Zealand. Clusters are quickly developing a more detailed picture of needs and priorities as they fan out across the country to do assessments and distribute supplies. With almost 50,000 people now sheltering in hundreds of evacuation centres, there is a need for the development of an evacuation centre plan. The humanitarian community stands ready to guide the government in international best practice in evacuation centre management to ensure the protection, food, water, health and sanitation needs of displaced people are met. The Government is understandably anxious to see children urgently return to classrooms that are currently being used as evacuation centres but this will first require the provision of safe transitional accommodation for those currently sheltering there. Intermittent essential services, as well as poor road access and communications difficulties, remain a constraint for both assessments and the delivery of relief. The Pacific Humanitarian Team has highlighted the need for more detailed sex, age and disability disaggregated data to ensure the needs of vulnerable people are being addressed.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.