Caritas pledges $40,000 to Tonga in wake of Tropical Cyclone Ian destruction
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has pledged $40,000 in support of Caritas Tonga’s response to Tropical Cyclone Ian, which caused extensive destruction in the Northern Ha’apai islands on Saturday.
Julianne Hickey, Director of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, says the New Zealand Catholic agency has worked closely with Caritas Tonga for more than a decade in emergency response and long-term development programmes.
‘We expect significant physical and human impact as Ha`apai is a fragile environment, already experiencing the impacts of climate change,’ says Mrs Hickey. In December, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand and Caritas Tonga initiated an emergency water management programme in Ha`apai to support five villages acutely affected by a four-month drought.
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has worked with Caritas Tonga over recent years in emergency preparedness. ‘We look forward to hearing the assessments of the Ha`apai relief committees as soon as communication can be re-established with them.’ Caritas Tonga reports that all normal communication lines to Ha’apai are still down, apart from government and Red Cross satellite phones.
Sister Senolita Vakata, Director of Caritas Tonga, is today participating in planning sessions with the National Emergency Management Office to plan allocation of response activities, resources, personnel and expertise, and ensure all immediate actions are coordinated safely.
Mrs Hickey says Caritas Tonga has particular expertise in providing psychosocial support following a disaster, and Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand will support this again if the need is identified.
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is accepting donations to the Pacific Cyclone Fund, which will be used to support the Caritas Tonga cyclone response.