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Humanitarian preparedness and response

Ambae Island volcanic ash eruption

The Manaro Voui volcano on Vanuatu's Ambae Island produced thick ash fall and gas emissions a number of times between 2017-18.

Many parts of the island were deemed uninhabitable due to the impact on housing, crops and water sources. The Government of Vanuatu declared a state of emergency on 12 April 2018.

On 26 July 2018 the Government of Vanuatu ordered the immediate evacuation of the entire population of Ambae (approximately 10,000) to the neighbouring island of Maewo. Evacuations commenced on 3 August 2018. This followed a previous episode in September and October 2017, when the entire population of Ambae was evacuated to nearby islands. Most of the population returned to Ambae when initial eruptions subsided.

Australia worked with the Government of Vanuatu and FRANZ partners (New Zealand and France) to coordinate assistance to the Government of Vanuatu-led response.

Australia's assistance package

On 31 July 2018 Australia announced a third package of assistance to Vanuatu to support the second evacuation of Ambae, with a further $2 million for the evacuated population and host communities, including:

  • support to the Government of Vanuatu for logistics, provision of health and education services and emerging infrastructure needs.
  • funding through local and Australian NGOs with a focus on protection, psychosocial support, livelihoods, shelter, WASH and early recovery.
  • support to the Vanuatu Police Force to bolster their capacity to maintain stability on Maewo.

This new assistance brought total Australian assistance to those affected by volcanic activity on Ambae to $5.55 million.

Previous funding has provided:

  • 51.3 tonnes of humanitarian relief supplies, including;
    • 277 family tents and two community tents,
    • 1,248 kitchen kits,
    • water storage tanks and bladders that can store up to 16,000 litres,
    • 1,500 personal inflatable solar lights, and
    • 500 shelter toolkits;
  • funding for logistics to transport affected people and relief supplies
  • essential education and health servicesfor approximately 6,000 women, boys and girls
  • Australian Defence Force assets to transport humanitarian relief items and personnel.

Australia's initial assistance package included funding for aerial surveillance of affected areas and assistance to the Vanuatu police to help manage movement of displaced communities.

A range of Australian-supported technical experts, deployed under the Australia Assists program, supported the Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office to plan the evacuation and manage the substantial challenge involved in longer-term resettlement.

Residents from Ambae Island receive humanitarian supplies including kitchen kits and tents. Credit: DFAT

Supplies from Australia's humanitarian warehouse in Brisbane were flown from the RAAF Base in Amberley to Vanuatu, to support communities affected by the Ambae Island evacuation. Credit: DFAT

Australia released much needed supplies like food, water, shelter and hygiene kits for affected communities on Ambae Island. Credit: DFAT

Australia worked closely with the Government of Vanuatu to deliver urgent supplies to those in need. Credit: DFAT

Supplies from Australia's humanitarian warehouse in Brisbane were flown from RAAF Base Amberley to Vanuatu to support communities affected by the Ambae Island evacuation. Credit: DFAT

Australian Defence Force aircraft arrive in Vanuatu carrying emergency relief supplies. Credit: DFAT

The Australian Government provided displaced communities with tents for temporary shelter. Credit: DFAT

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