Save the Children Warns 50,000 Children Are at Risk and Communities Are Ill Prepared as Cyclone Pam Readies to Lash Vanuatu

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Phil Carroll 267.992.6356 (M)


FAIRFIELD, Conn. (March 13, 2015) — As Category 5 Cyclone Pam prepares to pummel Vanuatu, Save the Children is warning that up to 50,000 children could be at risk from the storm, while thousands of families are not adequately prepared. Gale force winds are due to start reaching Vanuatu, with the eye of the storm currently forecast to pass late Friday night, March 13.

Save the Children Country Director Tom Skirrow said: “We have been going door to door in some of the poorest slum areas, and I’m hugely concerned that not enough is being done to make sure children and families are safe as this huge storm approaches. Thousands of families are living in makeshift, flimsy houses, which will not withstand the immense winds and rain we’re expecting. Families need to urgently evacuate to safe buildings, or the results could be catastrophic.”

The children’s aid agency warns that children are particularly vulnerable in these type of storms. Along with gale force winds, expected tidal surges -- which could reach up to 10 meters in height -- pose a huge danger to families living in low-lying coastal areas.

“Cyclone Pam is heading straight for us here in Port Vila and thousands of children are in danger,” Skirrow said. “Children can easily by swept away by flash floods, hit by falling debris or become separated from their parents in the chaos of a disaster. There will be extremely strong winds and likely torrential rain for hours on end as the storm passes and it’s critical that children are kept safe both during the storm and in the aftermath.”

Save the Children is preparing to launch an emergency response following the storm, which is likely to include providing clean drinking water, distributing vital household and hygiene items and ensuring children are kept safe at a time when they will be at high risk.

Save the Children is calling on the government of Vanuatu to speed up evacuation plans and move vulnerable families to safe evacuation buildingsas soon as possible. The aid agency is recommending that all families living less than 10 meters above sea level move to evacuation centers on higher ground.

How to Help

Save the Children is currently responding to emergencies in Syria, South Sudan, Liberia and other countries affected by disasters – both natural and man-made. These are the emergencies that you hear about and see on the news. You can also help Save the Children respond to Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, as well as other emergencies such as tornadoes in the American heartland, hurricanes in Central America, droughts in Africa, earthquakes in the Pacific "Ring of Fire" and other catastrophes around the world. When disaster strikes, chaos reigns and it is not always immediately clear what help will be needed or how much, and for how long. Many of the emergencies occur and are not covered by the media, yet people’s lives are seriously impacted, and our response can make a significant difference in helping the children and families get back on their feet. By contributing to our Cyclone Pam Children's Relief Fund, you will enable us to immediately serve children through disaster planning, preparedness, response and recovery work around the world.

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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