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Vanuatu Ministers approve over Vt130 million disaster relief funds

Vanuatu Council of Ministers (COM) has approved disaster relief funds to help families affected by volcanic ash on Ambae and also respond to immediate needs after cyclone Hola.

Vt92million (US$865,000) was approved to provide water, shelter and food to the following five priority areas identified in the assessment reports: North, North West and North East Malekula; West Malo; Central Pentecost; South East and South West Ambae; North Ambrym.

Vt51million (US$479,000) has been allocated to address food concerns alone, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ralph Regenvanu told Kizzy Kalsakau from Buzz 96FM after the COM meeting.

Vt11 million (US$103,000) has been set aside for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Health), Vt20 million (US$188,000) for Logistics and Vt10 million (US$94,000) for Shelter.

COM has endorsed school fee exemption for students in affected areas including VAT exemption on building materials for hardware supplies, he said.

For Ambae, the COM endorsed the declaration of west and south Ambae as disaster zones, at the same time approved another Vt40 million (US$376,000) to address the devastating impacts of volcano ash fall for the next three months.

It will fund the relocation of 1,000 households in the west and southern part of the island to safety and accelerate efforts to distribute relief supplies as soon as possible.

Fee exemption is also approved for students in west and south Ambae, he said.

The COM has also instructed that the office of the Prime Minister as the leading agency will work with the Ministry of Climate Change, Ministry of Land and Ministry of Internal Affairs to execute plans to secure permanent placement for the Ambae’s displaced population, said Minister Regenvanu.

This is the second time for communities in west and south Ambae to relocated because of volcano crisis.

Last year, the whole population was evacuated to Santo and other neighboring islands when the volcano almost reached its highest eruption level.

The chiefs on Ambae have requested that their people be relocated to less affected communities.

A special meeting has been called at 9am today for the Ministers of Climate Change, Agriculture, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Education and Lands to meet the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) to be briefed on the progress of recovery efforts underway in both the TC Hola and Ambae volcano declared Disaster Zones..


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