Pacific Humanitarian Team Responding To Cyclone Pam

News and Press Release
Originally published


(Suva, 14 March 2015): The Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) is responding to the catastrophic impacts of a devastating tropical cyclone that affected most of the country over the past two days.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam slammed into Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila, on Efate island, as an extremely destructive Category 5 cyclone on the evening of 13 March. Winds are estimated to have reached 250kmph with gusts peaking at around 320kmph, causing damage to infrastructure, impacting services such as electricity and leaving debris strewn across the capital.

“A disaster of this magnitude has not been experienced by Vanuatu in recent history – particularly in terms of the reach of the potential damage and the ferocity of the storm,” said Sune Gudnitz, Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Regional Office for the Pacific. “While we have no official reports of the damage the cyclone caused, the Pacific Humanitarian Team is ready to support a government-led response to a worst-case scenario.”

The Vanuatu Government has not yet issued a formal request for international assistance. It has, however, accepted OCHA’s offer to deploy staff to support the coordination of the response. A United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team is expected arrive in Port Vila on the evening of 15 March. OCHA will also deploy three staff with information management, public information and humanitarian coordination expertise on 15 March.

Other PHT partners, such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), UNICEF and UNHCR are also supporting critical areas such as shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, and protection.

The PHT, based in Suva, coordinates expert human and resources regionally and globally should the impacts of a disaster exceed a government’s capacity to respond.

For further information, please contact:

Karina Coates, Public Information Officer, OCHA Regional Office Pacific (ROP), Suva,, Cell +679 777 1433

Orla Fagan, Regional Public Information and Advocacy Officer, OCHA Regional Office

Asia Pacific (ROAP), Bangkok,, Cell +66 89 9447623.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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