Samoa Tsunami: Oxfam ready to respond

Published: 30 SEP 2009

International aid agency Oxfam is ready to respond to the tsunami in Samoa – the latest disaster to hit the Asia-Pacific region this week.

Oxfam Australia Acting Executive Director Chris Roche said the agency has supplies and staff on standby that can be quickly deployed to Samoa.

"Information is still sketchy, but Oxfam is currently working with our local partners and authorities to assess just what’s needed in Samoa and how best we can respond. We know that in a disaster like this, responding quickly is critical. That’s why we have supplies already positioned in the region ready to help,” Mr Roche said.

The tsunami struck Samoa early this morning after an 8.3 magnitude earthquake off the coast. A tsunami warning that was issued more widely for the Pacific has been downgraded.

“This week has shown us just how vulnerable the Asia-Pacific region can be to disaster,” Mr Roche said.

“Oxfam is already responding to the devastating situation in the Philippines, where flooding has forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes.”

Typhoon Ketsana dumped more than a month’s worth of rainfall on Manila in 24 hours. The storm has now also hit Vietnam and is likely to travel towards Cambodia and Laos.

“Our staff across the region are now preparing to help deal with the potential impact of this crisis in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. That may include distributing emergency supplies, as well as working to help stop the spread of disease,” Mr Roche said.

“In the Philippines, we have suspended our long term development work to concentrate on dealing with the flooding. We’re targeting our response at where the needs are greatest, especially helping women and girls, who are often the most affected by disasters like this,” Mr Roche said.

“We are appealing to the Australian people to support our response to the needs of people affected by natural disasters across our region. This week demonstrates how vital it is that we are ready to help.”

Oxfam’s International Crisis Fund is set up to allow the agency to respond quickly to disasters. To donate please visit www.oxfam.org.au or phone 1800 088 110.

For more information or to interview Chris Roche, please contact:

Kate Thwaites on 0407 515 559