Tonga's volcano eruption, tsunami: UNICEF is ready to assist families and children

UNICEF: In the aftermath of the volcanic eruption and tsunami, NICEF Pacific is ready to work with the Government of Tonga and its partners to provide immediate life-saving assistance to families and children.

With Tonga's borders closed owing to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, UNICEF will work with the government and its partners on the ground to provide the critical assistance that children and families require.

UNICEF Pacific Representative Jonathan Veitch said, "We are on ready to provide humanitarian assistance to the Government of Tonga and its people affected by the volcanic eruption and tsunami." "UNICEF will collaborate with the government, civil society organisations, and other development partners to ensure urgent response activities on the ground, including clean water and emergency health supplies for affected children and families."

The Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai underwater volcano in Tonga erupted strongly on January 15, after weeks of ash-emitting volcanic activity. Satellite footage showed a 5 km broad plume of ash, steam, and gas rising around 20 km above the volcano. The volcanic explosion triggered a 1.2-metre tsunami that slammed into coastal portions of Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa, within minutes. Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Australia, and New Zealand have all received tsunami warnings.

A 1-2cm coating of volcanic ash has blanketed the bulk of the country, hurting water and food supply while also lowering air quality. Access to safe drinking water will be a top priority in the coming days. Since January 15, communication lines have been down, making it difficult to learn about the scope of the damage.

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