Relief aid has arrived in Tonga after a devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami destroyed resources and left villages in ruin. According to Reuters, supplies are being sent from the Red Cross, along with aid agencies from the United States and Australia that have sent over $2 million each to Tonga. Numerous churches have also been sending aid to the people of Tonga collecting donations from their members. After help had been delayed, and a severe lack of communication added to the challenge, Tonga is now on a path towards recovery and restoration.
With the airport cleared of ash, planes are now able to land and bring much needed supplies. Volunteers from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have been delivering water and setting up shelters across the islands. Additionally, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reported that the United States is providing $2.5 million in humanitarian aid, and Australia’s government has provided $3 million towards relief at this point. Australians are also working to restore power on the island and are helping deliver and store disaster relief supplies.
The secretary general of the Tonga Red Cross, Sione Taumoefolau, shared that one of the main concerns is that the people on the island need immediate access to safe water sources. The ash from the volcanic eruption and floods from the tsunami contaminated the water supply, causing stress on the economy and risking the health of residents.
Global Citizen has reported additional humanitarian aid organizations that have put resources together for Tonga relief and shared how people can best help. Save the Children is one such organization in Tonga that is supporting the Ministry of Education delivering AU$1 million for distance-learning efforts that will utilize technology. Oxfam is an organization working with youth groups and churches that is running the Water, Sanitation, Hygiene program in Tonga along with the Food Security and Livelihoods Program. Additionally, UNICEF has shipped urgent relief supplies to Tonga including water and sanitation kits, and recreational kits for children to help them cope a little more with the chaos. Pita Taufatofua, a Tonga olympian, has also set up a GoFundMe page which has raised over half a million dollars thus far and has been spreading awareness about the help that is needed in Tonga.
The relief efforts from these humanitarian agencies and volunteers have alleviated some of the anxiety facing the people of Tonga. With their homes destroyed, the negative impact on their economy, and the threat to their health, relief aid is bringing them a sense of much needed hope and comfort as their homeland begins its process of rebuilding and restoration. Though getting aid to Tonga was difficult at first, the massive effort to make it possible for relief aid to arrive is proof that the resilience and strength of determined people can accomplish any task.