The Government of Tonga is leading relief and clearing operations since the eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano on 15 January. The ash and the tsunami affected an estimated 84 per cent of the country’s entire population or about 84,800 people. More than 62 people living in affected small islands of Mango, Fonoifua and ‘Atata were evacuated to Nomuka and the main island of Tongatapu. In Tongatapu, where the western side has been most affected, 31 houses were destroyed and 141 houses damaged. The Fua’amotu International Airport resumed operations on 20 January and the port facilities were declared fit for service on 21 January.
The Government-led initial damage and needs assessment is underway in Tongatapu and on the Ha’apai Group of islands. While inter-island and international communications remain heavily disrupted, most parts of the country, including remote islands, have been visited by assessment teams. Priority needs include access to safe water, food and non-food items such as shelter and kitchen kits. Humanitarian assistance is being distributed by Tonga’s National Emergency Management Office (NEMO), the Tongan Red Cross Society and other partners on ground, including UN agencies and INGOs.
The Pacific Humanitarian Team, representing UN agencies, INGOs, and the Red Cross Movement, is mobilizing its response in support of the clusters activated by the Government of Tonga.
On 22 January, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake at the depth of 12 kms hit Talaud Islands of North Maluku. The earthquake did not trigger tsunami, but at least eight houses and one public building were damaged, and one person was hospitalized. Local government agencies have assessed the situation and provided food and non-food items to the affected households.
Armed clashes between the Myanmar Armed Forces (MAF) and Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs), and People’s Defence Forces (PDFs) have escalated in northwest and southeast Myanmar, with artillery fire and airstrikes, leading to further destruction of civilian properties and displacement. As of 17 January, more than 167,800 people remain displaced in the northwest (113,900 IDPs in Sagaing, 33,800 IDPs in Chin and 20,100 IDPs in Magway) and at least 1,840 houses and other civilian properties, including churches, have been burnt down since mid-May 2021. In parallel, 217,900 people remain internally displaced in the country’s southeast (91,400 IDPs in Kayah, 74,600 IDPs in Kayin, 42,600 IDPs in southern Shan, 7,100 IDPs in Mon, 1,600 IDPs in Tanintharyi and 600 IDPs in Bago).
Active conflict, a volatile security situation and lack of travel authorisations continue to pose access challenges for humanitarians working to reach people in urgent need of critical assistance and protection services. In the northwest, local communities have been providing basic assistance to displaced people where possible, but this is not sufficient to address the scale of emerging needs. In the southeast, humanitarian operations continued in several displacement sites in southern Shan despite restricted access to Loikaw and Shadaw townships in Kayah State. Humanitarians urgently require access to conflict-affected areas to deliver immediate, life-saving assistance.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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