New partnership between UNICEF and the Government of Japan to support thousands of Tongan families affected by the volcanic eruption and tsunami – Tonga

SUVA, FIJI February 14, 2022 – UNICEF and the Government of Japan announce a new $1,250,000 partnership to help the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga ensure that approximately 19,250 people, including 10,000 children, are affected by the recent volcanic eruption and tsunami have sufficient access to drinking water, the environment, and good health.

This commitment is a continuation of the strong partnership between the Japanese people and UNICEF to improve the lives of all children living in the Pacific.

“The astonishingly huge volcanic eruptions and subsequent tsunami devastated the Kingdom of Tonga, and thousands of people are still affected and suffering. As the people and government of the Kingdom of Tonga strive to overcome the difficulties caused by the disaster, Tonga has been infected with COVID-19 for the first time after more than two years of COVID-free period,” said the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Kingdom of Tonga, HE MUNENAGA Kensaku. “This assistance will help Tonga accelerate its disaster recovery efforts as well as combat COVID-19. I believe Tonga will overcome the twin disasters of the volcanic eruption and COVID-19.

The eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai submarine volcano has caused the destruction of essential water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and the disruption of services to families, schools and institutions health. This further put people at risk of disease by drinking unsafe water, defecating in the open, and not being able to wash their hands regularly with soap and water.

Furthermore, the combination of the volcanic eruption and the tsunami created obstacles to the continuity of essential health services for the affected communities. Severely limited access to basic drugs and equipment has raised concerns about the availability and timeliness of consultations and treatment for illnesses and infections.

The contribution provided by the Government of Japan will enable UNICEF to assist at least 2,500 families and their children living in all divisions of Tonga, with priority given to the heavily affected areas of Tongatapu, Eua, Ha’apai, Mango and Vavau, to recover from the impacts of these recent natural disasters. Communities in these areas will benefit from resilient emergency WASH services for affected households, schools and health facilities. The partnership will also ensure the long-term restoration and continuity of essential health services.

“Pacific island countries, including Tonga, are among the most vulnerable to natural disasters. We thank the government and people of Japan for this support, and together with the government of Tonga, our partners and communities, we will ensure that the most vulnerable, especially children, have access to good water, sanitation , hygiene and general health,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative Jonathan Veitch. “This is crucial, especially with the challenges faced in the wake of devastating natural disasters and, of course, the ongoing pandemic.”

This partnership plays a key role in supporting the ongoing recovery. It will strengthen national capacity and strengthen the resilience of communities to deal with the consequences of the destructive effects of natural disasters.

Notes to editors:

About the Government of Japan:

Japan provides funds (grants, loans, etc.) and technologies useful for “development”, including peacebuilding, governance, promotion of basic human rights and humanitarian aid, in the form of official development assistance (ODA) to eligible countries and regions . ODA includes bilateral aid intended to directly assist developing countries and regions, and multilateral aid, which consists of contributions to international organizations such as UNICEF, UNDP and WHO.

For more information please contact:

Ayano ITOCounsellor, Embassy of Japan in Tonga, Tel. : +676 22221, [email protected]

Zubnah KhanUNICEF Pacific, Tel. : +679 9988137, [email protected]

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