UN warns more international help needed in Tonga

The United Nations Pacific office is urging the international community to keep up the support to Tonga and help it build back stronger after the January 15 volcanic eruption and tsunami.

Recovery work is being hampered by the Covid-19 outbreak in the country with 139 cases now confirmed across villages on Tongatapu and Vava'u.

The UN resident coordinator responsible for Tonga, Sanaka Samarasinha, said the initial response from the international community has been overwhelming but there still a long road to recovery ahead.

He said today the UN will deploy the first two disaster response experts - a water and sanitation expert and a disaster response co-ordinator - requested by the Tongan government.

"The assistance that has been provided so far by a number of countries has been contact-less. We are mindful of the need to follow very strict Covid-19 protocols they will be in quarantine for 14 days when they get there."

Samarasinha said they believe there is still a need for more onground personnel but they do not want an unnecessary influx of international personnel into the kingdom.


Photo: Tonga Red Cross