Tonga

Tonga: Aid ramped up after eruption and tsunami

Kuala Lumpur/Suva, 26 January 2022 – Local relief teams are urgently providing supplies to communities across Tonga, hit hard by a volcanic eruption and tsunami that destroyed hundreds of homes and left thousands without safe drinking water.

Relief items are being unloaded after the airport was cleared of ash, making it safe for planes to land.

Tonga Red Cross staff and volunteers have been assisting people from the moment the tsunami alert was triggered, and are ramping up the delivery of drinking water, temporary shelters and other critical relief supplies across the country’s many islands.

Sione Taumoefolau, Secretary General of Tonga Red Cross, said:

“This disaster has shaken the people of Tonga like nothing we have seen in our lifetime. The tsunami has wiped out homes and villages, but we are already rebuilding amid the ashes.

“After being cut off from the world, we are very grateful for the relief supplies being delivered to our shores. Our Red Cross teams are using boat and trucks to take these vital items that last mile to communities in need of shelter, water and other basic necessities.”

“There is an urgent need for people to have access to safe water sources in the days and weeks to come. Ash has settled in water tanks- requiring time to settle and careful treatment before use. It has also smothered much of the country, including houses and crops.

“It is critical to clean this ash away, so it doesn’t run into water supplies when the next rain comes.”

“Shelter is a top priority for families whose homes have been completely wiped out because of the tsunami. People have lost everything. We need to provide immediate support – then turn our attention to the longer term. It will be a tough time, but we will recover.”

To support the relief efforts of our locally led response, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal of $2.5 million Swiss Francs to provide urgent assistance including safe water, tarpaulins, shelter materials including tool kits to rebuild, household items such as kitchen cooking sets and hygiene kits.

Katie Greenwood, IFRC’s Pacific Head of Delegation, said:

“While the damage to some of the islands is truly devastating, it is heartening to see Red Cross and governments from around the world providing assistance to the hard-hit people of Tonga, enabling much-needed services and relief items.”

“A well-coordinated humanitarian response that brings together governments and international organisations to support local agencies like Tonga Red Cross is crucial in the Pacific. These partnerships are critical for effective delivery of immediate relief and longer-term support.”

For more information, contact:

In Suva: Soneel Ram, +679 9983 688, soneel.ram@ifrc.org

Asia Pacific Office: Joe Cropp, +61 491 743 089, joe.cropp@ifrc.org

Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, antony.balmain@ifrc.org

About IFRC

IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world.