Ambaeans will face challenges on return to island, resident says

People being evacuated from Ambae. Picture: Nixon Garae Tambeana

An Ambae evacuee says residents are preparing to face potential food and water shortages, destroyed crops and a lack of infrastructure on their return to the Vanuatu island.

James Bari, who is a Penama Province councillor, has been living on Santo since the government ordered an evacuation of the approximately 10,000 people living on Ambae due to volcanic activity three months ago.

Those displaced want to return to their homes when the government’s state of emergency is lifted at the end of the month, but continued volcanic activity means this may not be possible.

Mr Bari said there will be many challenges faced by residents on return to the island.

“We don’t know what crop is available now on Ambae for us, because we know we left the animals like cattle, the pigs, they are running around and they have nothing to eat. Maybe they have destroyed all the plants.”

Mr Bari said most families have now run out of the food supplies given to them by the government, and are using their own money to buy from shops.

“Supplies have run out, we haven’t got enough food. We haven’t got clean water supplies as well. Most of us are living in rural areas where there is no water supply, so we have to catch rain – rain water.

“And sometimes when it doesn’t rain, we haven’t got water. And the roads, too, a big problem, because we stay in some places where there is no roads for the vehicles to reach.”

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