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Cyclone Winston

100 days on from Cyclone Winston - Red Cross calls for more support to help thousands in need

May 29, 2016

Since Cyclone Winston made landfall in Fiji on February 20th, the  Fiji  Red Cross has been able to reach 63,000 people with emergency relief, but much more still needs to be done to help thousands of survivors in need.

The category 5 cyclone killed 44 people and affected an estimated 350,000 - almost half Fiji’s population. 32,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and many of those affected are struggling to recover.

Immediately after the cyclone the Fiji Red Cross began a major relief operation with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Kathryn Clarkson, Head of IFRC’s Pacific office in Suva, says the seven million Swiss Franc international appeal (Euro 6.4 million, USD 7 million) launched by the IFRC aims to help the recovery of 50,000 people over a one-year period,  but funding shortfalls could restrict the operation.

“Our appeal is only 55 per cent covered, so we are asking international donors to continue to support us and enable Fiji Red Cross to reach many people who are still living in dire conditions,” she said.

In the last 100 days, Fiji Red Cross has provided people in the worst hit areas of the country with relief items including tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets and family packs and has given psychosocial support to more than 550 people.     

“We have been able to make a big difference to the lives of many. Our focus has not only been on meeting people’s material needs but also on helping them to overcome their emotional distress”, said Filipe Nainoca, Director General of Fiji Red Cross. “But in many places the needs that we found at the start are still there. Shelter is the main issue. People who’ve lost their homes are still in tents or temporary shelters.”

The IFRC is supporting the Fiji Red Cross recovery plan which will focus on shelter, water and sanitation, health education and disease prevention, support to livelihoods and projects focused on community preparedness and disaster risk reduction.

Living through the cyclone had a significant psychological impact on many people, particularly children.

“We still have reports of children diving under tables when there’s a thunderstorm, or being afraid to go out and play, and that’s not just in the affected communities - that’s in Suva as well,” said Filipe Nainoca. “Psychosocial support - helping communities overcome the emotional trauma they have experienced - is a very important part of what we are doing to restore a sense of normality in people’s lives.”

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Red Cross Movement in Fiji marks World Red Cross Red Crescent Day

May 7, 2016

Red Cross Movement partners will rejoice together to mark the World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, the annual celebration to highlight the 150 years of humanitarian action.

Fiji Red Cross Society (FRCS) together with International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will be celebrating this day at the Tanoa Skylodge Hotel in Nadi on Saturday 7 May.

This year’s global theme ‘Everywhere for Everyone’, expresses the reach of the Red Cross movement to millions of vulnerable people with disaster response activities and through development activities, as well as in situations of armed conflict and violence across the world.

Locally, since Tropical Cyclone Winston Red Cross has reached more than 50,000 people with more than 200 active staff and volunteers.

“The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is united, open and eager to support a common approach. This was and still is evident in our TC Winston response work. Our volunteers have been everywhere for everyone especially in the affected areas,” says Fiji Red Cross Society’s Director General, Mr. Filipe Nainoca.

“Working collaboratively and strengthening our partnerships and cooperation will ensure the needs of affected communities are properly addressed. It also means the long term strategic goals of Fiji Red Cross are taken into account,” Mr Nainoca says.  

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement supports millions of people around the world every year – in times of conflict, natural disaster and crisis. Drawing on 150 years of humanitarian action, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is committed to providing relevant and timely humanitarian service to vulnerable communities now and into the future.

World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, held on 8 May, the birthday of the Red Cross founder Henry Dunant, is an annual celebration of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Each year, Red Cross and Red Crescent societies organize activities to highlight the unique role of the Movement in their respective countries.

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Red Cross partners agree on one-year recovery plan to support 65,000 people affected by Tropical Cyclone Winston

April 15, 2016

Fiji Red Cross has just concluded a successful two-day meeting on its Tropical Cyclone Winston operation, with a commitment from Red Cross Movement partners to a year-long emergency plan of action.

Fiji Red Cross aims to help 65,000 people over the next year with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other external partners.

Director General of Fiji Red Cross Filipe Nainoca says the meeting has enabled all those involved in the cyclone response to harmonize their contributions.
“Working collaboratively and strengthening our partnerships and cooperation will ensure the needs of affected communities are properly addressed. It also means the long term strategic goals of Fiji Red Cross are taken into account,” Mr Nainoca said.

The Fiji Red Cross plan focuses on supporting households with immediate relief needs and emergency shelter. Support to longer term recovery will soon begin through an integrated programme including health education, water, sanitation, hygiene promotion and safe shelter. There will also be a focus on livelihoods, community preparedness and disaster risk reduction.

Mr Nainoca said the Fiji Red Cross had already received approximately 1.6 million FJD (USD 774,000 Euros 687,000) worth of emergency aid was received from partners and distributed to affected communities.

Head of IFRC’s Suva office, Kathryn Clarkson said it was heartening to see so many partners working together to support Fiji Red Cross.

“We are very proud of how quickly Fiji Red Cross responded to this disaster. Much of that is due to its strong and extensive network of volunteers and its disaster preparedness work,” she said.

“IFRC has launched an appeal for 7 million Swiss francs (USD 7.2 million, Euros 6.4 million), to assist 50,000 of those affected by the cyclone. The appeal is only 37 per cent covered and we are seeking additional contributions so that Fiji Red Cross can meet the extensive recovery needs that still exist.”    

So far Fiji Red Cross has assisted more than 10,000 households which represents more than 50,000 people. About 250 staff and volunteers from 15 Red Cross branches are supporting people in the affected areas. 

The meeting was also attended by external partners, including the Fiji Government, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of UN agencies, and other humanitarian organizations.

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Fiji Red Cross assists flood-affected communities

April 07, 2016

Fiji Red Cross volunteers on standby since Tropical Cyclone Zena caused flooding in most parts of Fiji are now conducting assessments and distributing aid to affected settlements.

Heavy rain since Monday caused flash flooding and power cuts in several parts of Fiji, meaning volunteers were unable to reach some villages cut off by floodwaters, though distributions to areas not affected by flooding continued. The water level on many roads around Nadi and Rakiraki has now receded enough for Fiji Red Cross teams to get through.

“We are conducting assessments and distributions today as the weather has cleared up,” says Sagaitu Josaia, Fiji Red Cross Disaster Officer who is currently stationed in Rakiraki. “We are just crossing our fingers the rain stays away, because we are keen to reach the many people who have leaking roofs and inadequate shelter.”

Mr. Josaia says Red Cross teams are distributing solar lanterns, tarpaulins and shelter tool kits.

Most roads in the western division are now open to traffic. “All the western branches are conducting Initial Damage Assessments (IDA) subject to accessibility as access to some communities may still be difficult if the water levels have not receded completely,” says Mohammed Hafiz, Fiji Red Cross Western Divisional Centre Co-ordinator.

An Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) has been set up in Sigatoka and the Director General of Fiji Red Cross Filipe Nainoca is on his way to the branch to provide moral support and see the operation in action.

Fiji Red Cross operations manager Eseroma Ledua says the country was very fortunate to have avoided the full impact of Cyclone Zena, because many communities are still recovering from the effects of Cyclone Winston six weeks ago.

“We have a busy few days ahead. As well as assessing the damage and assisting in areas hit by this week’s floods, we are continuing with our aid for those impacted by TC Winston,” he says. “Our volunteers are well trained and very committed, and we have 300 of them to call on, so I expect them to be able to make a difference to those who are suffering.”

More than 8000 people filled evacuation centres as Cyclone Zena approached, and two deaths have been reported. The Government says all schools will reopen tomorrow and the curfew imposed on Wednesday night has been lifted.

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Fiji Red Cross on standby to assist those affected by latest Fiji floods

April 05, 2016

Volunteers and staff from Fiji Red Cross Society are on high alert as heavy rain and flooding affects parts of the country already struggling to recover from Tropical Cyclone Winston.

About 80 volunteers are on standby in the north and west of the main island of Viti Levu, which has been battered by wind and rain for two days. The towns of Nadi and Rakiraki have been without power for two days and are cut off by floodwater, as are many remote villages.

Fiji Red Cross health coordinator Marica Kepa says 24 volunteers are waiting at the Red Cross Rakiraki branch office for roads to reopen, and are using the time to brush up on hygiene messaging.

“They are very keen to get out and help. As soon as there is road access we will be going house to house in the eight highest-need villages, but we hope to cover more than 100 villages when the weather clears.

“We will have one team working from the middle of the island up, and another working from the top of the island down, so we can avoid missing anyone. They’ll be distributing water purification tablets, jerry cans, tarpaulins, shelter toolkits and cooking sets. The volunteers will also be reminding communities to practise good hygiene – by boiling water, washing hands and covering all food and water,” Ms Kepa says.

In Nadi and Lautoka towns, Red Cross volunteers are also waiting to reach some remote areas. They have assisted one family whose house burnt down, providing them with emergency supplies, including clothing, soap, and cooking equipment.

“We have told all our western branches to be on alert and take precautions. As soon as the situation is safe, we will get out and assess the damage,” coordinator of western division service centre Mohammed Hafiz says. “But it could be Friday, or at worst, Saturday, before this will be possible.” 

Fiji Red Cross is reminding the public to boil all drinking water, wash all raw food in clean water, wash hands with soap after going to the toilet and before eating, and to practice good hygiene at all social gatherings.

They should also stay out of flooded waterways, to avoid the risk of water-borne diseases, and listen to the radio for the latest weather updates and safety messages.

Two tropical depressions are currently sitting to the west of Fiji, and the first is expected to bring heavy rain and wind to most of Fiji from Tuesday afternoon.

Fiji Red Cross is continuing to distribute emergency aid and supplies to areas not affected by the floods.

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Fiji Red Cross Society Response

April 04, 2016

Fiji Red Cross Society would like to advise the public that field activities in all areas affected by the current flooding will be on hold until road access is restored. People should listen to the radio for the latest weather reports. For emergency assistance please contact the following Fiji Red Cross Society numbers:
National Office: 331 4133
Northern Division: 881 1139
Central/Eastern Division: 331 4133
Western Division: 666 4072

Health advice

Members of the public should also take health precautions during the heavy rain and flooding, which is forecast to continue throughout much of the country this week. It is likely that water sources will be contaminated. People in areas affected by flooding should take the following steps:

  • Boil all drinking water
  • Wash all raw food with clean water before consumption
  • Wash hands with soap after visiting the toilet and before eating
  • Cover all drinking water containers and use clean vessels
  • Do not swim or walk through floodwater 

For more health advice contact your nearest health facility 

Media inquiries
Soneel Ram, Fiji Red Cross Society Communications Officer, Mobile: +679 720 6376 Email: communications@redcross.com.fj Twitter: @soneelram

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More funding needed to help those affected by Cyclone Winston

March 31, 2016

More than a month after Cyclone Winston left a trail of destruction across Fiji, thousands of people are still in need of urgent assistance.

The Fiji Government estimates that almost 350,000 people – 40% of the country’s population – have been affected by the Category 5 storm, the strongest ever to hit Fiji.

“The Fiji Red Cross is working as fast as it can to help those most affected by this terrible storm. We have assisted more than 47,000 people so far, but there is still much more to do,” says Filipe Nainoca, Fiji Red Cross Society Director General.

Fiji Red Cross has 250 staff and volunteers distributing relief items such as blankets, tarpaulins, tools, and clothing. The main focus has been on providing emergency shelter materials and psychosocial support to survivors, as well as clean water, sanitation and non-food relief items.

Mr Nainoca says more funds are needed, both to meet immediate needs, and for what will be a long recovery period.

“The Fiji Red Cross Cyclone Winston appeal aims to assist 50,000 people and has so far raised FJD$713,883, but the need is great. More than 60,000 people are homeless, and 100,000 more are living in homes that have been badly damaged.

“One hundred thousand people still do not have access to clean water and thousands have no toilets. We are going to be supporting some of those affected by the cyclone for the next year,” he says.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is also supporting the Fiji Red Cross operation on the ground and has launched a 7 million Swiss Franc international appeal (Euro 6.4 million. USD 7 million). The appeal is 22 per cent funded.

“Many people affected by the storm are showing great resilience. But this is the biggest disaster they’ve ever faced, and the psychological scars will be there for a long time. We will be alongside them as they recover, but need the world’s help to do that,” Nainoca says.

Following Cyclone Winston, the Government of Fiji declared a State of Natural Disaster which will be lifted on 19 April. The storm killed 44 people and damaged 32,000 houses, 500 schools and 88 health facilities.

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One month on from Tropical Cyclone Winston needs remain huge

March 22, 2016

By Corinne Ambler, IFRC
Grandmother Virisila Marama is about to do her laundry when a call from her neighbour makes her drop everything and run out to the road.

The 86-year-old from the remote Serea village in the east of the island of Viti Levu scrambles under a barbed wire fence and onto a muddy track, waving at the Fiji Red Cross volunteers parked 100 metres away.

When the young men and women reach her, she clutches the hand of one of them, tears streaming down her face.

“When I saw the truck I was so relieved. I’m crying because I’m very happy to see you”.

One month ago Virisila’s house was badly damaged by Cyclone Winston, the strongest tropical storm ever experienced in Fiji.

As members of the Red Cross team erect a tent for Virisila and her grandchildren to sleep in, others stack emergency aid inside the ruined house; a shelter toolkit, personal hygiene items, water, mosquito repellent, clothes, blankets and sheets.

In the month since Cyclone Winston cut a swathe through Fiji, the Red Cross has delivered emergency relief to over 40,000 people. According to Fiji Red Cross operations manager, Eseroma Ledua, the needs of affected people are still great.

“We had pre-positioned stocks placed around Fiji, which helped in the first few days but more is needed. We hope that by the end of April we will have reached all of the worst hit families.”

The Category 5 storm killed 44 when it made landfall on 20 February, destroying entire villages and damaging crops and infrastructure. According to the government an estimated 32,000 homes were left damaged or destroyed.

“In some villages there are only 3 houses left standing. Many villages don’t have any toilets or clean water. Our priority for the next month is shelter, but we are also concentrating on ensuring that communities have clean water and adequate sanitation,”explained Mr. Ledua.

A psychosocial support delegate from New Zealand Red Cross has so far provided support and training to volunteers from 8 of the 15 Fiji Red Cross branches. They in turn are providing emotional support to affected people in their own communities.

Mr Ledua feels this support is much needed. “What they have been through is huge. They are still in shock, and the enormity and trauma of the disaster is still sinking in. Our volunteers are a sympathetic ear, and often that is all people need – someone to talk to.”

Fiji Red Cross has 160 staff and volunteers working on the response to Cyclone Winston.

It’s estimated 350,000 people have been affected in some way by the cyclone. The Fiji Red Cross supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)  is aiming to reach 38,500 of the worst affected with emergency relief and support for their longer term recovery.

For updates on the Fiji Red Cross Cyclone Winston operation in Fiji follow Fiji Red Cross on Facebook and on Twitter @FijiRedCross

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Fiji Red Cross Society Accepts Relief Items Valued at FJD$1.2 Million for Cyclone Winston

March 09, 2016


Fiji Red Cross Society (FRCS) received 75 tonnes of relief items valued at FJD$1.2 million from its counterparts in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The relief items include 1,215 tarpaulins, 1,350 shelter tool kits, 2,406 kitchen sets, family tents and jerry cans. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Asia-Pacific zone office in Kuala Lumpur sent the additional relief items to assist FRCS with its relief work to those who were affected by Cyclone Winston. FRCS Director General Filipe Nainoca said that FRCS will focus on the immediate needs of the vulnerable people. He said that initial assessments have given the Society a good idea of what the needs are on the ground. “We will continue to distribute relief out to the communities affected by Cyclone Winston,” said Nainoca.
So far FRCS has reached a total number of 5,665 households with relief distribution.
The flight arrived at Nadi International Airport on Tuesday 8 March, 2016. FRCS Operations Manager, Eseroma Ledua received the goods on site.

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Fiji Red Cross Society Launches TC Winston Appeal

February 23, 2016

Fiji Red Cross Society (FRCS) has launched a TC Winston Fiji Red Cross Appeal.
Addressing the media at the Press Conference held at the National Office, FRCS National President, Ms. Cathy Wong said, "Fiji Red Cross is launching a National Appeal, calling for funds to support the ongoing response and recovery effort across Fiji. We are asking you to donate money to assist with the distribution of emergency relief items, such as shelter kits, non-food items such as clothes, blankets, cooking sets and hygiene kits."
FRCS will focus on the immediate needs of the vulnerable and initial assessments will give the Society a good idea of what the needs are on the ground.
"Our first priority are the most vulnerable areas, the informal settlements, and I am very happy to say that our assessment teams went there yesterday to access," said Ms. Wong. "I am appealing to everyone out there, to stand with Fiji Red Cross with your generous cash donation. Together we can and we will deliver our humanitarian service to the most vulnerable."
The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China were the first to donate by giving US$100,000 towards the appeal.
When presenting the cheque to FRCS National President, Chinese Embassy in Fiji Political Counsellor Gu Yu said that “China is a huge country and we have also suffered a lot from natural disasters and we know what is going on in Fiji.” He also added that “the Government and people of China were ready to offer their support in cash and kind to the people of Fiji.”
Members of the public can make cash donations to Fiji Red Cross through the Fiji Red Cross website or the ANZ bank:
Bank Name: ANZ Banking Group Ltd.
Account Name : Fiji Red Cross Society
Account Number:  1313354
BSB: 010890  (applicable for international deposits)
SWIFT CODE: ANZBFJFX (applicable for international deposits)
Please State in Narrative: TC Winston Fiji Red Cross Appeal
If you require a receipt please contact Fiji Red Cross at communications@redcross.com.fj

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Red Cross mobilises relief efforts as Cyclone Winston leaves a trail of destruction across Fiji

February 21, 2016
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By Navinesh Kumar, IFRC
Last night Fijians felt the full force of Tropical Cyclone Winston as it passed over the country’s main island group. According to the Fiji National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) five people have been killed and thousands affected by the Category-5 storm, the strongest on record to ever strike Fiji.
The government declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew to safeguard the public during the worst of the storm. Although the capital Suva was not directly in the path of the cyclone its impact was felt.
“We were safe inside but the gale force winds blowing all night were deafening,”  said Ahmad Sami, spokesman with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Fiji. “This morning there were some downed power lines and fallen trees but we are more concerned about the fate of communities outside the urban centres who were directly in the path of the storm, particularly in the outer islands.”
According to media reports, thousands of houses have been badly damaged in western and northern parts of Fiji, including Rakiraki, Tavua, Ba, Lautoka, Savusavu, Lau, Taveuni and Nausori.  Homes have been flattened and roofs torn off by the 250 kph winds.

Read more at ifrc.org

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