A massive relief operation is now underway in Japan involving the government, the army and civil society. Our sister organisation Oxfam Japan is raising money for several local organisations active in the disaster areas.
Throughout the Pacific region, early reports had suggested that the incoming tsunami wave could be higher than many low-lying Pacific islands, with the potential to wash right over them.
Early information suggests these islands appear to have avoided the worst-case scenario.
Oxfam has relief supplies in Papua New Guinea and is providing tarpaulins, food and water to immediately assist patients from a hospital in Wewak that suffered serious damage when it was flooded by waves. This assistance to the Boram Hospital on the northern shore is critical due to extensive damage of the hospital kitchen.
Of the more than 100 patients in the hospital, around 50 were evacuated to the police station compound where most are lying outside. Oxfam staff in Wewak also helped a young mother who had given birth just before the waves struck last night. Heavy rains are now reported in the area and sanitation issues both at the hospital and at the police station are posing as additional concerns for the team.
In Bougainville, Oxfam water engineer Pauline Komolong said, “We helped to evacuate two families (about 20 people) from the coastal village of Kobuan. Their permanent houses were weakened by the constant pounding of waves, which lasted from 11:30pm last night to 5am this morning.”
In the Solomon Islands, Oxfam country representative Joe Weber said the most significant impact was in Isabel province in the northern part of the country. “The water is reported to have reached 50 metres inland and in one village, a house was destroyed and several canoes washed into the sea.”
Dolores Devesi, an Oxfam program manager currently in Tonga, said: “There were no waves here, just big tides. People spent the night at consolidation points inland from the coast, but now there are lots of cars returning home.”
Similarly, Oxfam’s partner organization in Samoa, Women in Business Development Incorporated, reported that, “There were warnings in place all night but the only wave activity looked smaller than Hawaii, which we saw on TV."
Oxfam staff and pre-positioned emergency supplies remain on stand-by around the region for use if required. Oxfam will continue to assess the situation in the Pacific.
In Japan, the country worst hit by the earthquake and resulting tsunami, the Oxfam office has been damaged but all staff and families are accounted for. The agency has not yet been able to contact all partners on the ground in Japan.
The Humanitarian Coalition has launched an appeal for funds to support the relief and recovery in Japan. The Humanitarian Coalition brings together four leading Canadian development agencies in times of crisis to provide the Canadian public with a mechanism for national fundraising and public response that is easy for donors to use, transparent and fully accountable.
To donate, click here.
Being ready to respond – the Emergency Response Fund
Time is of the essence in an emergency and it is essential that Oxfam be ready to respond quickly and effectively to a humanitarian crisis.
The Oxfam Canada Emergency Response Fund (ERF) enables us to provide timely, appropriate responses to emergency situations and to support reconstruction work that enables people affected by an emergency to get back on their feet and become less vulnerable to disasters in the future. ERF also provides critical funding and enables Oxfam to respond to emergencies that don’t capture the attention of the media and don’t make it to the headlines.