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Emergencies headlines: Pacific

Here you can find previous headlines from the Pacific. These headlines give updates from our work, and areas of concern, of the whole Oxfam confederation. For further information on any of Oxfam's emergency response programmes around the world please contact the Humanitarian HelpDesk in the first instance.


05 December, 2018

Indonesia Sulawesi: We have so far reached 100,000 people who were hit by the earthquake/tsunami in Palu. Our response team is made up of local organisations and national staff with a wide breadth of expertise - early assistance with clean water, shelter, sanitation and hygiene kits is now developing into longer term support to help people restart their livelihoods. The Government has confirmed that funds will be available for rebuilding homes, although the number of people who will need to be relocated to safer areas isn't known yet. We will stay active on the influencing side, ensuring that women and girls can be active participants in the reconstruction process, and lobbying for 'building back better', respecting people's land rights and fighting profiteering.

24 October, 2018

Indonesia (Sulawesi): The situation is stabilising in the area hit by the tsunami - electricity and telecommunications networks have been restored, and damage has been assessed in the towns although some remote locations are still cut off by landslides and broken bridges. About 220,000 people have been made homeless, sheltering in almost 1,000 informal sites across Donggala, Sigi, and Palu districts. Our programme has so far supported 19,000 people - two water treatments units are up and running now, toilets are being built, teams have distributed thousands of hygiene kits with sarongs and hundreds of tarpaulins, and we have several more truckloads of chlorine and water maintenance equipment going by road from Makassar this week. There is still a lot of debris about, and we are starting a clearing operation paying people a daily wage, which we hope we might expand in future weeks. Our team is made up entirely of partner staff and Oxfam national staff working alongside one another.

Lao: Tropical Storm Son-Tinh caused heavy rains and flooding (which included a massive spillover from a dam) across northern, central and southern regions in July, affecting over 24,000 families. Oxfam gave some urgent support and is now planning some longer term activities including collective gardening (through a combination of cash-for-work activities and distributions of vegetable seeds and tools) and support to fishing. This will continue now for the next few months until April 2019.

10 October, 2018

Indonesia (Sulawesi): The powerful earthquake/tsunami that hit Sulawesi two weeks ago is still yielding casualties and chaos. We think a million people have been affected, and right now the main areas of urgent need are clean water and adequate shelter. Oxfam is responding in a consortium of national and local organisations. We have two offices in Makassar and Palu, and teams (from Oxfam and partners combined) are busy procuring emergency items to distribute to people who are now homeless. We are currently focusing on some of the more neglected rural areas south of Palu city. Informal markets appear to be re-establishing which will make cash distributions viable, but we are also procuring specialist emergency water/ sanitation equipment from our UK logistics warehouse. So far we have managed to help around 12,500 people with the aim/capacity to help hundreds of thousands more.

26 September, 2018

Philippines: About 600,000 people are estimated to have been affected by typhoon Mangkhut before it carried on to hit China. Our team was already on standby alongside several national partner organisations, ready to move out to the more isolated areas where access is hardest. These partners are the Humanitarian Response Consortium (HRC) and the Citizens Disaster Response Centre (CDRC), with whom we have planned a joint response. Partners have started distributing shelter kits they had in stock, plus water and hygiene kits, but the plan is to move towards giving cash as markets are functional and recovering. We don't anticipate this response being more than a few weeks, to help communities over the immediate effects of the typhoon. But through our intentional investment in partners in the Philippines in the last few years, Oxfam has contributed to building national organisations that are capable of managing emergency responses without us, which is good news.

12 September, 2018

Philippines: Oxfam and other organisations are on high alert for the arrival of typhoon Mangkhut which is heading directly westwards towards the northern island of Luzon bringing winds of over 200km per hour. We are part of a national consortium of agencies on standby alongside various government authorities ready to respond, and it is highly likely that international assistance will be called for depending on the strength and trajectory of the typhoon as it lands. One of our national partners has deployed staff to three of the areas likely to be hit. More soon.

08 August, 2018

Indonesia (Lombok): In the space of two weeks the island was hit by three severe earthquakes. 156,000 people have been made homeless and 300 killed. The disasters have brought down homes, destroyed water networks, and ended people's livelihoods. People are sheltering in community spaces or under plastic sheeting, and each aftershock has done further damage and made things worse. The response is being led by the Government and coordinated by a Humanitarian Hub that Oxfam helped set up several years ago. Oxfam is supporting an organisation called KONSEPSI with stocks of tarpaulins, clothes, and a mobile water treatment plant. So 5,000 people have been helped, and Oxfam is planning to give more support through cash grants.

2 May, 2018

Philippines: Oxfam is supporting a national consortium of organisations to run courses on disaster preparedness with schoolchildren, making them better able to cope with the multiple hazards that can hit the country - floods, typhoons, volcanoes and others. Read more about how well this is going - The Mighty Rescuers: Young people in the Philippines learn to take charge in emergencies.

11 April, 2018

Fiji: Tropical Cyclone Keni has been sweeping over Fiji this week. With heavy rain and strong winds, flooding is the major issue in low-lying areas, forcing some evacuations and contaminating water supply systems. The Water Authority of Fiji is advising people to conserve and boil water. Oxfam staff were sent home as a precaution earlier this week to secure their property. We began responding immediately, supporting local organisations to deliver hygiene kits (including purification tablets) to several hundred households on the main island of Viti Levu. Oxfam is helping coordinate further supplies through its seat on the WASH cluster.

07 March, 2018

Papua New Guinea: The earthquake that hit the country on 26 February - the biggest in 100 years according to the Australian High Commission - has left an estimated half a million people affected. Subsequent aftershocks, including a magnitude 6.7 quake, have also inflicted significant damage.

The main issue affecting aid efforts in the aftermath is accessibility. Many areas are remote, and with infrastructure damaged and helicopter services limited, it's challenging to carry out assessments. There are also concerns around security. Currently Oxfam's gathering as many details as possible, but given the lack of information it's still not clear what our next steps would be. Oxfam Australia's Twitter account has been providing updates.

28 February, 2018

Tonga: 80,000 people out of a total population of 109,000 have been affected when cyclone Gita tore across the main islands about two weeks ago, destroying homes, crops, and infrastructure. The Government declared a state of emergency at least until mid-March. We support local organisations in Tonga; Oxfam New Zealand helped set up the Tonga National Youth Council several years ago. It has volunteers in many of the hardest-hit communities, and we are supporting them with some additional staff and supplying them with seeds for distribution.

20 October, 2017

Vanuatu: The Government declared a state of emergency in September in the face of a possible volcanic eruption. Mt Manaro Voui on Ambae island started spewing ash and volcanic gas, triggering a swift evacuation of the entire population to neighbouring islands. They have been housed in communal centres and given food, and Oxfam is supporting the Vanuatu Red Cross in distributing hygiene kits.

27 September, 2017

Vanuatu: The Government has ordered the evacuation of about 11,000 people and declared a state of emergency in the face of an imminent volcanic eruption on one of the country's islands. Oxfam is on standby if needed. We have contingency stocks of buckets, hygiene items, and water purification chemicals available for distribution, and we could mobilise engineers and public health staff if needed.

20 January, 2017

Fiji: Heavy rain and localised flooding have receded since a tropical depression brought heavy rain into Fiji in December, but its impact is still felt by many, especially among an already-vulnerable population still recovering from last year's Cyclone Winston. Homes and livelihoods have been destroyed, three communities have been badly affected by landslides, and health centres and schools have been badly damaged. Oxfam has been distributing hygiene kits to evacuation centres and carrying out assessments ahead.

03 June, 2016

Papua New Guinea: We recently evaluated how our response to the drought in the country has been going. Papua New Guinea (PNG) has an unusually dispersed and diverse population, scattered throughout a mountainous region in small settlements. There are over 800 distinct languages for a population of 7 million. The El Nino-related drought is the worst drought for over 20 years, and it is not a country used to water shortages. Preparedness for this is therefore generally low, with little effort given to water storage, irrigation techniques, or use of drought-resistant seeds. Oxfam's activities have been focused on improving the availability of clean water, training farmers to cope with drought conditions, and providing supplies of seed to be ready for the next season. Strong local partners, and a tactic of recruiting a team of national staff who will stay on to run recovery programmes, did pay off. The Oxfam team is also very busy indeed updating their PNG Facebook page with images, articles, and programme updates so do follow it.

20 May, 2016

Papua New Guinea:  Last week Oxfam helped fund a new small plane for a partner - Samaritan Aviation - to help them deliver essential supplies to communities affected by disasters in isolated districts. One such is East Sepik which has been heavily flooded; Oxfam has also been there with Save the Children distributing basic household kits to people made homeless. Photos are available on Oxfam in PNG's Facebook page - please follow it! Oxfam also continues to respond to the effects of the El Nino-related drought, and a team of engineers has travelled to the Schouten Islands with 11 rain water harvesting systems and 2 gravity fed water systems for immediate installation. 

Fiji: Oxfam continues to provide essential basics to communities hit the hardest by the cyclone last February. Working with partner organisations our small team has been able to achieve an impressive amount of work, facilitating access to clean drinking water, and providing sanitation and hygiene products in an attempt to prevent water borne diseases. In addition to urgent distributions we have repaired the water systems for 11 communities.

22 April, 2016

See El Niño on the Global page