Emotional plea for help from Tongan students stranded by Cyclone Pam

Tongan students stranded in Vanuatu  have appealed to the Tongan government for help in the wake of Cyclone Pam.

Student Tupou Faʻaoa made an emotional plea for help in a telephone interview with Television Tonga.

Faʻaoa said the students had not experienced a situation like this before.

She said they were trying to come to terms with the disaster.

They had also been told a prisoner had escaped and was still on the run in the area.

“Our home and families are in our thoughts, but there is nothing here that can make us feel at home,” Faʻaoa sobbed.

Faʻaoa said they had no clean water to drink and relied on food given to them by Fijian students who had already been flown back to Fiji by their government.

They could not access their bank accounts as ATM machines were still down.

Tongan government

The Prime Minister’s office has not confirmed whether it will bring back the stranded students, even though it appears that four students studying in Vanuatu on New Zealand scholarships have already returned.

In a statement yesterday the Prime Minister’s office only said that 14 Tongan students were registered as being at the Vanuatu campus by the Ministry of Education.

It said one student was studying on a Tongan government scholarship, three students were there on New Zealand government scholarship, three students were on Australian government scholarship and seven students were studying privately.

However, Faʻaoa said there were eight Tongan students at the campus, seven female and one male.

She said there had been 12 altogether, but four who were on New Zealand government scholarships had already left.

MP Samiu Vaipulu, the member for Vava’u 15,  told Parliament yesterday that other countries which had citizens at the Vanuatu campus had already repatriated their students.

Hon. Vaipulu said Vanuatu was in a state of emergency and there were shortages of food and water.

He said the remaining Tongan students should be returned before someone was killed.

Lord Nuku asked the government whether it had enough funds to deal with the situation in Vanuatu.

Finance Minister ʻAisake Eke said Tonga had enough money to deal with the situation.

He said the government had TP$26 million (NZ$17 million) as its reserve fund left by the former government and TP$5 million (NZ$3.3 million) set aside for payment of loans.

Cyclone Pam

Cyclone Pam, a category five storm,  was the strongest to hit the South Pacific in the past 30 years.

It wiped out all villages in Vanuatu, with the unconfirmed death toll being put at 44.

The Melanesian country of 260,000 is desperately in need of clothing, food, basic shelter, medical supplies, water and other necessities.

A total of eight deaths have been confirmed in Port Vila, which is home to about 40,000 people, but aid agencies say the death toll is likely to rise.

The main points

  • Tongan students stranded in Vanuatu have appealed to the Tongan government for help in the wake of Cyclone Pam.
  • Student Tupou Faʻaoa made an emotional plea for help in a telephone interview with Television Tonga.
  • Faʻaoa said they had no clean water to drink and relied on food given to them by Fijian students who had already been flown back to Fiji by their government.
  • The Prime Minister’s office has not confirmed whether it will bring back the stranded students, even though it appears that four students studying in Vanuatu on New Zealand scholarships have already returned.

For more information

Cyclone Pam: Vanuatu will run out of food ‘in a week’ (The Independent)

UNICEF Vanuatu appeal

USP Emalus campus

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

Right now Kaniva News provides a free, politically independent, bilingual news service for readers around the world that is absolutely unique. We are the largest New Zealand-based Tongan news service, and our stories reach Tongans  wherever they are round the world. But as we grow, there are increased demands on Kaniva News for translation into Tongan on our social media accounts and for the costs associated with expansion. We believe it is important for Tongans to have their own voice and for Tongans to preserve their language, customs and heritage. That is something to which we are strongly committed. That’s why we are asking you to consider sponsoring our work and helping to preserve a uniquely Tongan point of view for our readers and listeners.

Latest news

Related news