42 dead and relief work continues – Fiji’s UN Rep
Forty-two people have died as a result of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston, Fiji’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Peter Thomson said in New York today.
A UNICEF photographer was amongst the first UN emergency team in Koro. Photo: Department of Information
Ambassador Thomson said all reports indicated the scale of destruction is unlike anything Fiji has ever experienced before.
A statement issued by the Department of Information pointed out that the government continues to asses the damage as it sends emergency crews to the hardest-hit outlying islands.
All reports indicate the scale of destruction is beyond anything experienced before in Fiji.
The Fijian Government’s first concern is to provide humanitarian emergency assistance, food, water, sanitation and shelter to people in dire need.
This process has begun and we are working in close coordination with humanitarian partners to deliver the assistance required.
Fiji’s Representative to the UN said 14,000 people were sheltering in 274 evacuation centres, and a thirty-day State of Natural Disaster had been declared by the Government.
Ambassador Thomson is expected to make a joint presentation with the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to member states at the United Nations at 11 am on Friday, 26
The government statement said the briefing would include needs assessment information for donors and partners and adds the timing was necessary as the briefing would cover a full evaluation of the situation.
Thomson thanked foreign nations and organizations which had provided early assistance. He said it was critical that the Nation Disaster Management Office control and coordinate the relief work. He added the UN was firmly supporting the work of the NDMO.
He said Fijians were by nature resilient and strong of heart and spirit, but the severity of the situation meant Fiji was going to require extensive assistance from the international community in the days, weeks and months ahead.