Japan, UNICEF Announce New Partnership to Support Tonga
This commitment constitutes the continuation of the strong partnership between the people of Japan and UNICEF aiming to improve the lives of all children living in the Pacific.
"The astonishingly huge volcanic eruptions and the subsequent tsunami devastated the Kingdom of Tonga, and thousands of people are still being affected and suffering. While the people and Government of the Kingdom of Tonga have been striving to overcome difficulties caused by the disaster, Tonga was infected by COVID-19 for the first time after more than two years of COVID free period,” said the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Kingdom of Tonga, Munenaga Kensaku, in a press release on Monday.
"This assistance will help Tonga to accelerate their restoration efforts from the disaster as well as to fight against COVID-19. I believe Tonga shall overcome the double disasters of volcanic eruption and COVID-19," he said.
The eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano caused the destruction of essential water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and interruption of services to families, schools, and health care facilities. This has further exposed people to the risk of illness from drinking unsafe water, open defecation, and from not being able to regularly wash their hands with soap and water.
In addition, the combination of the volcanic eruption and the tsunami created hurdles in the continuity of essential health services for affected communities. Severely limited access to basic medicines and equipment has given rise to concerns on availability and timeliness of consultation and treatment for illnesses and infections.
The contribution provided by the Government of Japan will allow UNICEF to support at least 2,500 families and their children living in all divisions of Tonga, with priority given to highly affected areas in Tongatapu, Eua, Ha'apai, Mango, and Vavau, to recover from the impacts of these recent natural disasters. The communities in these areas will benefit from resilient emergency WASH services for affected households, schools and health care facilities. The partnership will also ensure the restoration and long-term continuity of essential health services.
"Pacific Island countries, including Tonga, are amongst the most at risk to natural disasters. We thank the Government and people of Japan for this support, and together with the Government of Tonga, partners and communities, we will ensure that the most vulnerable, especially children, have access to good water, sanitation, hygiene, and overall health," said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Jonathan Veitch.
"This is crucial, especially with the challenges faced in the aftermath of devastating natural disasters and, of course, the ongoing pandemic," he stated.
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