The European Commission has made available €1 million in humanitarian funding to provide emergency assistance to families impacted by Tropical Cyclone Winston in Fiji.
The funds are used to provide the most vulnerable people with shelter, food assistance, and access to clean water and sanitation facilities, as well as to help re-launch agricultural activities.
"This is a gesture of solidarity from the European people to the people of Fiji, many of whom have lost their shelters, belongings and sources of livelihoods in the wake of Cyclone Winston", said EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. "This contribution will not only cover the immediate needs of the most affected populations, but will also support them in restoring their livelihoods so they can get back on their feet at the earliest."
As a result of the storm which struck last month, over 350 000 people living along the cyclone’s path were affected – nearly half of Fiji’s total population. Winston also damaged at least 18 000 houses and left vast areas of farmland devastated.
Assessments by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) and its partners indicate that the humanitarian needs triggered by the cyclone will continue to be felt for at least 6 to 12 months, as the country is already struggling to cope with El Niño-induced drought and water shortages.
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism was activated on 24 February to facilitate the delivery of much-needed relief items to the most vulnerable communities. Through the Mechanism, France provided and ensured the airlift of essential humanitarian items such as water treatment units, tarpaulin and shelter toolkits to the stricken populations.
Considered one of the most powerful storms to strike the South Pacific region, Tropical Cyclone Winston made landfall north-east of the national capital, Suva, as a Category 5 cyclone on 20 February 2016. With maximum wind bursts of 320 kilometres per hour, the severe storm brought heavy downpours, flash floods and strong winds which killed 42 people and forced close to 60 000 others across the island nation to seek shelter in evacuation centres. According to the Government of Fiji, the Western Division is the hardest-hit region, with close to 260 000 people affected.