This week, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Osnat Lubrani was invited by the Acting Prime Minister to address His Majesty’s Cabinet to express the UN’s solidarity with the people of Tonga following the aftermath of Cyclone Ian in Ha’apai Island.
“Tonga’s diligent investment in preparedness for disaster and the swift concerted actions taken by the Government, armed forces, local authorities and communities have been essential to the response process,” said Ms Lubrani in her address to Cabinet.
Ms Lubrani added that the UN welcomed the request from the Government of Tonga for assistance and applauded the attention given to the medium-to-long term recovery. She also conveyed that the UN agencies and humanitarian partners represented by the Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) stood ready and eager to provide specialist expertise in sectors like water, health and sanitation, shelter, education, food security and early recovery to the people of Tonga.
During the special Cabinet Meeting, the Acting Prime Minister, Honourable Samiu Vaipulu and Cabinet Ministers agreed to make a formal appeal to the donor governments, humanitarian agencies, international and regional organizations to assist the Government-led relief and recovery programme for the people of Ha’apai.
The Government also accepted an offer of support for further assistance conveyed by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and PHT to the Honourable Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano, including commitments from development partners and international agencies, after various priorities for recovery and re-development efforts were identified by the Government. The formal announcement came after the Situation Report Number 7, which comprised of preliminary assessments on the extent of humanitarian needs and devastation to the Ha’apai islands and made evident the significant gaps in resources available, as well as what is required to meet the needs of the distressed people of Ha’apai.
Lead Government ministries and agencies will now work together with development partners for the coordination of the assistance to ensure that various sectors have clarity on where their efforts are needed, in order to avoid duplication and best serve the communities in need.