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Children at risk after Cyclone Pam devastates Vanuatu

Vanuatu has been devastated by one of the strongest cyclones ever to hit the South Pacific, with whole villages blown away and thousands of homes flattened. With winds reaching 250kmph, Tropical Cyclone Pam has left a path of destruction throughout the archipelago of Vanuatu and neighbouring countries.

Eight people in Vanuatu have been confirmed dead, although this number is expected to rise once communication has been re-established. Homes and infrastructure have been wiped out with thousands of people taking shelter in evacuation centres. UNICEF estimates that around 60,000 children across the country have been affected.

The category five storm made landfall on Friday night (13 March) and continued into the early hours of Saturday morning. On Efate Island, where the capital Port Vila is located, an estimated 90 per cent of structures are either damaged or destroyed. A state of emergency has been declared for Shefa Province, which includes Port Vila, with other areas to be determined following aerial assessments.

Vanuatu has a population of 277,000 with about 50,000 living in Port Vila. The country is made up of some 80 islands, 65 of which are inhabited. With communication lines still down and transport networks largely inaccessible it is still unknown how many people have been affected by Cyclone Pam.

In Port Vila access to clean water and hygiene is dangerously scarce, including in evacuation centres. The health of thousands of children is of particular concern with kids at high risk of deadly water-borne and vector-borne diseases such as cholera and malaria. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates a 10-fold increase in water and sanitation supplies will be needed to support those affected by Cyclone Pam over the next few months.

ChildFund Australia has launched an emergency appeal to support children and their families in Vanuatu whose lives have been devastated by Cyclone Pam. ChildFund is partnering with locally-based organisation, Live & Learn Vanuatu to provide safe water and sanitation facilities.

Your donation will help to reconstruct water tanks and sanitation facilities at schools in Port Vila and Tafea Province and will provide water purification tablets and hygiene education for children and their families.

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