• 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).
• 42 people have been confirmed dead.
• 1177 schools will re-open on Monday around Fiji.
• Around 100 of the most badly damaged schools will remain closed for 3-6 weeks to allow for repairs.
• The total damage bill is now estimated at more than FJ$1billion or almost half a billion USD.
• Aid, including food rations, is arriving in cyclone affected communities and assessments are now underway across the country.
• A 30 day State of Natural Disaster has been declared.
Two thirds of Fijian schools are set to re-open on Monday but the damage to around 100 schools is so severe that they won’t be able to open for up to six weeks. In its response, the Fiji Government is targeting 350,000 people living in the path of the cyclone. 120,000 of those are projected to be children. Food security is becoming an issue with markets in affected areas either destroyed or inaccessible because of the cyclone. Women comprise the majority of those engaged in agricultural sectors and as market vendors, providing food for their families and whole communities. Food security and early recovery efforts are needed to offset any potential safety and protection concerns, including sexual exploitation and abuse. Partners are seeking further clarity on the distribution of food rations in order to assess need as the response continues. The Fiji Government estimates the damage bill from Tropical Cyclone Winston will be almost half a billion US dollars. The Government is launching a campaign to encourage international tourists to continue to come to parts of the country not seriously affected by the cyclone to provide much needed income and jobs. Relief supplies, including food rations, are being distributed as teams assess needs and priorities across the country. There remains an urgent need for the Government to develop a clear strategy for the closure of evacuation centres with almost 30,000 people still sheltering in hundreds of facilities across the country. The humanitarian community stands ready to guide the government in international best practice in evacuation centre management. The provision of safe transitional accommodation for those leaving shelters must be a top priority. The Pacific Humanitarian Team has highlighted the need for more detailed sex, age and disability disaggregated data, particularly regarding evacuation centres, in order to ensure the needs of vulnerable people are being addressed. Intermittent essential services, as well as poor road access and communications difficulties, remain a constraint for both assessments and the delivery of relief.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.