What are the needs?
The Pacific region, including Papua New Guinea, Fiji Islands, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Vanuatu, is one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world in terms of the recurrence, severity and scope of hazards. It suffers from high exposure to cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and flash floods, tidal surges, landslides, drought, forest fires and volcanic eruptions, as well as epidemics. This is compounded by environmental degradation and the negative impact of climate change.
Lack of economic diversity, remoteness from major trade and commercial centres, strong gender inequalities are factors which characterise many of the Pacific island nations, and exacerbate their vulnerability to disasters. With a total population of some 10 million spread across the vast area, the death toll and number of people affected by natural calamities can appear rather low in standard disaster statistics, but the Pacific countries rank among the highest in casualties and people affected per inhabitant.
How are we helping?
The EU provides humanitarian assistance to the Pacific region both in terms of disaster preparedness and emergency relief when major disasters strike.
In March 2015, when Super Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu with full force, the European Commission was among the first international donors to respond, releasing funds for immediate relief for the most vulnerable families. Two experts were also immediately deployed to participate in the assessments of humanitarian needs on the stricken islands.
The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) regularly responds to small or localized disasters in the Pacific region through its Small Scale Response mechanism. In April 2014, following floods which displaced some 9 000 people in the capital of the Solomon Islands, Honiara, and other areas of Guadalcanal, the EU allocated humanitarian funding to help the most vulnerable. Environmental expertise was also deployed to the islands through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism as part of a joint EU/UN mission to help assess the risks triggered by the heavy rains. EU aid covered sanitation facilities and the delivery of hygiene kits.