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Daily Noon Briefing Highlights: Tonga - Afghanistan

18 Jan 2022

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An image of a volcanic-ash covered Fafaa village (right) in Tonga's  main island,Tongatapu, following the eruption of Hunga Tonga - Hunga Ha'apai volcano. Credit: UNOSAT

Daily Noon Briefing Highlights – 18 January 2022

Tonga

In the aftermath of the volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga, the Tongan Government has confirmed three fatalities, with several people injured. Some 100 houses have been damaged, and 50 others destroyed in Tongatapu where displaced people are staying with relatives.

Latest reports indicate that Tongatapu has sustained infrastructure damage, with severe waterfront damage in Nuku’alofa, Tonga’s capital. There is still no contact with the Ha’apai group of islands, with authorities expressing particular concern over two small low-lying islands - Mango and Fonoi. An assessment team has been sent by Tonga to the area.

Clean water sources are a concern for the Tongan Government which has advised people to only drink bottled water. Water sources may be contaminated from the ash, debris, and sea water. Needs assessments by the Tongan authorities are ongoing and should provide a better estimate of what is required. 

The Pacific Humanitarian Team and regional humanitarian agencies are coordinating how to support communications, logistics, and water and sanitation responses.  The UN is on standby with teams and emergency supplies, and stocks in Tonga are being readied for distribution once humanitarian needs are identified by government and partners.  UN staff who are based in Tonga are working to assist coordination and response efforts in-country.

Conditions permitting, Australia plans to send a relief flight carrying shelter items, kitchen and hygiene kits to Tonga in the coming days.       In addition, a Royal Australian Navy ship, HMAS Adelaide, will leave for Tonga soon with humanitarian supplies, including from UNICEF, to support the cleanup, improve connectivity and enhance water and sanitation. Two New Zealand naval vessels, HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Aotearoa were scheduled to depart New Zealand on 18 January for Tonga.

The UN will be discussing with the Government of Tonga any requests they may have for specific assistance.

Afghanistan

OCHA is leading an inter-agency assessment team deployed on 18 January to Qadis District in northwestern Afghanistan following the 5.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the area on 17 January. Initial reports indicate that 26 people have been killed, four people injured, and hundreds of houses damaged or destroyed. Heavy rains before the earthquake reportedly made mud brick houses more vulnerable to damage.

People whose homes have been damaged or destroyed are sheltering with relatives and other members of their communities. Preliminary reports indicate that food, shelter, and non-food items, and heating materials are most urgently needed. In addition to the OCHA-led assessment team, aid agencies are providing initial emergency support in the form of hot meals, mobile health teams, and distributing water purification tablets, hygiene kits, and water kits.