IOM Flash appeal Fiji: Tropical Cyclone Winston, 08 March 2016

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On 20 and 21 February 2016, Fiji was hit by Tropical Cyclone (TC) Winston. A Category 5 cyclone, TC Winston was the most powerful storm on record in the Southern Hemisphere, weaving a path of destruction across the entire country. With winds measuring up to 320km/h, TC Winston has left hundreds of thousands of Fijians displaced, without water, shelter, food or livelihood. The Government of Fiji estimates almost 350,000 – 40 per cent of Fiji’s total population – affected (180,000 men and 170,000 women), including 120,000 children. Initial government reports indicate up to 100 per cent of buildings and subsistence crops have been destroyed on certain islands and damages across the country are estimated to reach a total worth of USD 500 million. On 20 February, in response to TC Winston the Fijian Government declared a state of emergency and formally requested international assistance on 21 February.

As of 4 March, 112,800 people are estimated to be in need of urgent shelter assistance, while 250,000 people are without access to water and sanitation. Both the structure and function of health facilities have also been disrupted at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. In addition, 63 health facilities (38 per cent) in the country have been severely or moderately damaged. The Fijian Government and the humanitarian community have identified the most urgent needs of the affected population in the following sectors: shelter, health, food, water, sanitation and hygiene, education and protection.

The living conditions of the evacuees are of significant public health and protection concern. As of 4 March 2016 initial data reported that approximately 24,000 houses are damaged or destroyed, leaving more than 54,000 people displaced across almost 1,000 evacuation centres. The majority of evacuations centres (EC) are schools that are not equipped to meet the needs of the displaced population. Furthermore, the Government aims to see students return to classrooms without delay – the Government has yet to provide a clear timeline for the process of EC closure. Consequently, IOM and humanitarian partners are planning to ensure that the evacuees have a safe place to move to once the ECs close.

Furthermore, many people affected by the cyclone are women and children. This has implications in several areas of support, including shelter, protection, security, education and health. Prior to TC Winston, Fiji already faced pervasive and widespread violence against women, rates that are double the global average. The effect of the cyclone is expected to put women and those most vulnerable (including children and the disabled) at even greater risk in in terms of their safety and exploitation.

It is therefore critical that ECs are well-managed and protection-focused in their design. IOM along with the rest of the humanitarian community is working closely with the Fijian Government to ensure that protection issues in ECs are addressed and plans are put in place for durable solutions and sustainable return.

The appeal covers a three-month period for which IOM seeks USD 4,100,200 to enable the delivery of humanitarian assistance within the CCCM, Shelter and the Protection and Safety Sectors. This appeal is in line with the Fiji Tropical Cyclone Flash Appeal 2016 published by OCHA and the Government of Fiji on the 4 March 2016, IOM’s request represents 10.6 per cent of the total funds requested.

Capacity and Coordination

IOM is present in Fiji with a majority of its staff in Suva. Surge capacity has been initiated, led by IOM’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, focusing on its core areas of expertise, Shelter and Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM). IOM has been asked to assist in coordination of the Evacuation Centre Management Group. IOM is also supporting the National Disaster Management Office through the secondment of an IOM CCCM Officer. The additional secondment of an IOM Information Management (IM) Assistant to the Divisional Commissioners Office is also in progress.