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Update: Cyclone Pam emergency response

Sixty per cent of Vanuatu`s entire population has been affected by Cyclone Pam, one of the strongest cyclones ever to hit the South Pacific. Pam has destroyed thousands of homes, devastated crops and contaminated water supplies.

The category five cyclone, which hit the country on 13 March 2015, has affected 166,000 people, including 82,000 children across some 22 islands.

An estimated 15,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed, leaving 75,000 people in need of emergency shelter. The majority of those affected have now returned home from evacuation centres but most are living in temporary structures. Ten year-old James and his family (pictured above) from Efate Island are living under a makeshift tent.

Crops have been wiped out. With 80 per cent of the population relying on agriculture, many families are facing food shortages and have lost their source of income. Without access to nutritious foods, children under five are at risk of malnutrition and stunting.

Communication has been restored to much of the country and schools have officially reopened but with around half of all schools destroyed or damaged, many remain closed. Ten-year-old Sabrina, pictured above with her brother and cousins, is one of thousands of students still out of school.

110,000 people are in need of clean drinking water. ChildFund Australia`s partner in Vanuatu, Live & Learn, reports that access to water is one of the main concerns for children and their families. Most of their water tanks have been damaged or destroyed by the cyclone and wells have been contaminated. Many people, including women and children, are forced to walk in the sun, more than half an hour each way, to reach fresh water. Some are so desperate they have resorted to boiling and drinking seawater.

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