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News from the District of Melanesia

23/03/2015: Vanuatu - Photo gallery

The Marist brothers have survived a cyclone that hit Vanuatu over a week ago, according to a head of the local Marist community.

The Marist in charge of the District of Melanesia - a region which includes the four countries of Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea - spoke to the local Brohters days after the cyclone, when the local phone company was finally revived.

“The Brothers and the postulant are safe and fine and that was great news and a relief for me,” said Brother Jean Marie Batick, the Superior of the District of Melanesia. “The cyclone did not really damage where they are on Santo Island,” he added. 

“I was able to speak to some of my family members as well and everyone is fine and the other family members of our Brothers from Vanuatu are also safe and fine.”

Efforts to rebuild the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu are gaining speed, as relief supplies begin to reach remote islands.

Cyclone Pam tore through the country more than a week ago, killing 17 people and displacing thousands.

The UN says 65,000 people are in need of emergency shelter in Vanuatu, a string of over 80 islands.

The country’s capital, Port Vila, and the Tafea province in the south have been damaged the worst.

“Many families in those places have been left homeless and are still in the evacuation centres,” said Br Jean Marie Batick. “I would like to thank everyone for your support and your continuous prayers for the safety of our Brothers and the people of Vanuatu,” he added.

Aid is arriving mostly from Australia, New Zealand, France and neighboring Pacific countries (see  Vanuatu Relief Fund MAPS - Marist Solidarity Australia). But the nation, which relies on tourism, is yet to see the cyclone’s negative effects on its economy.

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