The latest cyclones which have ravaged Vanuatu, as well as an earthquake, in the four days from 01 – 04 March, should drive home the vulnerability and the responsibility we all bear for the global climate crisis and its impact on small island developing states says Forum Chair and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown.

“Our hearts go out to those in Vanuatu who are now homeless, those hurting, those displaced, those hungry and the many anxiously awaiting news or assistance.

As emergency workers and officials continue assessments and rapid response work to the worst-affected provinces of Shefa, Penama, and Malapa, and as work continues to restore basic infrastructure needs, including power, safe water, and the airport, we stand in solidarity with Vanuatu,” said PM Brown in a statement.

“We extend to Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau, his government and his people our prayers of strength, fortitude, and unity as they continue to work around the clock, with the support of international partners, to deliver quick responses to the most affected communities.

“We commend development partners including Australia, New Zealand, UN agencies and others already working closely with the Government of Vanuatu to deliver quick responses to those most affected and assist with the reporting and initial assessment of damages. We know that the ongoing anxiety and trauma caused to hundreds of families during these intensifying events is also an emerging priority.

“We acknowledge the mammoth undertaking, post-disasters to refocus efforts to recover, restore and rebuild.

In the coming days, as more information becomes known, we the Pacific Islands Forum stand ready to continue to assist with the recovery and rebuilding efforts as and when possible,” said PM Brown.

Indeed, these recent events have reaffirmed again the necessity of our efforts, as a region, to continually drive climate justice for the most vulnerable states, including through initiatives such as the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on Climate Change, he said.

“To our brothers and sisters in Vanuatu, your Forum family stands in solidarity with you. We uphold you in prayers of safety, support, and recovery. You will overcome. You will build back, with resilience and strength,” said Forum Chair Brown.