Following the the worst cyclone ever recorded in the southern hemisphere, the Red Cross is appealing for $7 million to fund emergency efforts in Fiji.
More than 62,000 people are sheltered in evacuation centers 10 days after Tropical Cyclone Winston tore through the Pacific nation.
At least 42 people were killed in the category five storm on February 20, bringing winds up to 325 kph that destroyed homes, crops, and much of the nation’s infrastructure.
Nearly 347,000 people, or 40 percent of the nation’s population, have been affected across Fiji’s 300 islands.
“Entire villages have been devastated and people are in a state of shock,” said Director General of the Fiji Red Cross Society (FRCS) Filipe Nainoca in a statement.
The Red Cross appeal will aid 38,500 people in the worst-affected areas, providing clothing, blankets, jerry cans, kitchenware, tools, and tarpaulins. Aid workers will also be providing access to clean water, working to prevent the spread of diseases, reconnecting families, and offering help to survivors facing psychological trauma.
UNICEF, the children’s agency of the United Nations, reported that 120,000 children had been affected by the cyclone and are in need of “urgent and comprehensive assistance.” The agency is also setting up temporary classrooms in tents, providing emergency health kits, and has sent typhoid-tetanus vaccines to the ministry of health.
Fiji reopened many of its schools Monday, although at least 240 of them have been materially damaged, if not destroyed. A number of the schools are temporarily being used as shelters.
“We are responding to their immediate needs now,” Nainoca said, “and will help them through the weeks and months ahead to rebuild their lives.”