Food, shelter and water remain priorities in Vanuatu

Vanuatu authorities say managing food, water and shelter remain the priorities this week for the thousands evacuated from the volcanic island of Ambae.

More than 11,000 people have been moved to the islands of Pentecost, Maewo and Santo since Manaro Voui began spewing ash and smoke more than two weeks ago.

The volcano's alert level has recently been lowered from four to three but it is still up to the Vanuatu government whether people will be allowed to return to the island given volcanic ash from the volcano has contaminated most of the waterways and killed crops.

Director of the National Disaster Management Office Shadrack Welegtabit said in Santo's main town of Luganville where most of the evacuees were sheltering he is not aware of any food or water shortages.

He said shelter and sanitation issues were being addressed.

"People are now assisting in terms of providing portable toilets and that has been coming in slowly. In some locations we might need a bit more portable toilets for sanitation."

Shadrack Welegtabit said assessors were expected to report back on the situation for evacuees on Pentecost and Maewo this afternoon.

He said emergency management authorities were working closely with the Vanuatu police to ensure security for the evacuees and their homes on Ambae.

Concerns for children's education in Vanuatu evacuation centres

Mothers in evacuation centres on Espiritu Santo said they were worried for their children's education in the wake of the volcano evacuation.

Thousands of children are among the people who have been relocated due to the volcano.

Wendy Karo, a mother at one of the evacuation centres, said she was worried for her children's education.

"We are worried that all of our children - who we have run away from the island with to come here - they have not been able to complete their education and we are just living with them here.

"Some were in kindergarten, some in primary school. The high school students they have taken away and put in schools but we are worried about these little ones."


Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins Water, food and shelter are the main concerns at the refugee centres and not necessarily in that order.