Port Vila, Vanuatu – Dubbed the earth’s most powerful weather event so far in 2020, Category 5 Cyclone Harold – the biggest cyclone in the Pacific since Tropical Cyclone Winston, has made landfall in Vanuatu.
“Here in Port Vila we secured our homes and ensured that we had supplies ready to wait out the storm. Thinking and praying for all our Family and Friends during this time as the cyclone takes its course. Evacuation centres are in place around Efate, on the main island and schools in outer islands are being used as evacuation centres for the people to take refuge as we get ready for TC Harold.”
– Paula Leo, Pacific Climate Warrior based in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
Vanuatu had declared a national emergency and closed its maritime and aviation borders in attempts to protect its people from the global Covid-19 pandemic. It currently has no reported cases of the virus, however, in the wake of Cyclone Harold, distancing measures have been relaxed as evacuation centres are being opened to cater for displaced communities.
With an already strained medical system and limited supplies to tackle the global pandemic, the people of Vanuatu are now burdened with the injustice of the climate crisis, a situation for which they are least responsible.
“These already stressful situations, combined with the onslaught of a severe natural disaster, will no doubt create another layer of injustice towards already marginalised groups within our society. It’s important to remember, now, that we need to continue to put people’s health and wellbeing first and foremost, especially in how we recover from this to create more resilient communities which builds solidarity across borders.”
– Fenton Lutunatabua, Regional Managing Director, 350 Pacific.
“As Pacific communities face impacts from COVID19, they must also now prepare for Category 5 Cyclone Harold, a disaster exacerbated by the climate crisis which will cause loss and damage from a problem the Pacific has not caused. As Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Fiji prepare for humanitarian response, we remember that both these crises highlight the inequality perpetuated by an economic system which puts profit over people and just how critical systems change is towards just recovery.”
– Genevieve Jiva, Pacific Islands Climate Action Network Coordinator.
Category 5 Cyclone Harold is a reminder that the climate crisis isn’t selective nor has it gone away in light of the current global situation and urgent climate actions need to be taken to protect the frontline communities whose very lives are under threat.
“Category 5 Cyclone Harold is an outcome of the unconscionable crime of climate change perpetrated against the people of Vanuatu by fossil fuel corporations and the countries that subsidize them. The horrific loss and damage that has occurred today undermines basic human rights of life, food, water and personal security of innocent Pacific peoples”
– Dr. Christopher Bartlett, Independent Climate Expert Vanuatu
The Pacific Islands are situated in a region with a multitude of natural disasters, such as cyclones, flooding, droughts and earthquakes, which are becoming increasingly frequent and with far more devastating impacts as a direct result of increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, predominantly from the burning of fossil fuels.
For more information please contact: Patricia Mallam | E: [email protected]