The Government wishes to provides clarification on the issue of the compulsory evacuation of people out of Ambae to arranged evacuation site on Maewo.
The Decision was made following continuous escalation of the Marano Vui volcano activity on Ambae. The continuous explosions and spewing of volcanic ash including the associated risks of lava flow and other related volcanic hazards based on the observation and monitoring of the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazard Department ( VMGD) is too risky for the people of Ambae to continue to live there. There are no signs of slowing down of the volcano and there has been strong magmatic activity of the volcano measured through seismic stations on the island. The Volcano is currently at the Alert level 3 meaning it is at minor eruption stage. Recent observation has shown some aspects of the volcano has increase 10 to 20 times. A clear example is the explosion which occurred on Thursday 28 July spuing volcanic particulars over 12 kilometres high and emitting over 300.000 tonnes of gases into the air and spreading over the island across the Pacific including Fiji and Solomon Islands causing cancelation of international flights between these countries and Vanuatu.
In light of the above, the Government is very concerned about the life of over 11,000 people of Ambae who lived on Ambae who lived on Ambae and has set direction throught COM Decision 117/2018 for the immediate compulsory evacuation of people on Ambae to arranged evacuation sites on Maewo.
A state of emergency was also declared over Ambae and has been effective since 26 July. The SOE will be for 2 months and will elapse on 26 September 2018. Arrangement are underway through the National Disaster Management Office ant the Penama disaster Emergency Operating Centre for immediate evacuation to commence off Ambae by tomorrow morning to Maewo.
Maewo offers a unique solution to the people of Ambae as a second home option based on the following reasons:
· Maewo has sufficient vacant land to cater for all the Ambae population
· Maewo and Ambae has strong cultural linkage and the chiefs and leaders of both islands have agreed to settle on Maewo following their customary heritage
· Maewo is within the Penama Province Province and it is best that the population is maintained within the same province to allow the Penama Province to grow.
· Maewo is rich with natural resources including water, food and animals and can provide a good habitat for the people of Ambae
The Government has made it clear through it decision 117/2018 that its resources will be focused on Maewo. Any other arrangement with other islands will be at the cost of the individuals who do so. While there may be other opportunities for relocation in other islands, it will be at the arrangements of the leaders from Ambae with the respective off islands community leaders. It should be noted that there will not be anyone left behind on the islands once the evacuation process completes.
While Maewo and Pentecost including Santo are some of the volcano ashes, it is not life threatening and people can live with it. The Ashes can increase the fertility of the land and contribute crop production and yielding on the respective islands
The Government calls for the support of all the leaders and the people of Ambae to corporate with the Government in the immediate off-island evacuation. The Government also calls for the leaders of Maewo, Pentecost and other leaders of other island in Vanuatu to assist the Government through the spirit of partnership and Melanesian values to offer assistance to the needy people of Ambae during this disaster time. It calls for genuine help which should not be based on the money value but on the brotherhood and sisterhood principal and customary arrangements
The Government wishes to thanks all the development partners, civil society Organisation, Church based organisations and the private sector for all the support and assistance in the previous disaster events and also the Ambae volcano response.