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Vanuatu/French mobilisation

Published on March 23, 2015
Statement by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development
Paris, March 16, 2015

The extremely violent Cyclone Pam has devastated Vanuatu in the South Pacific. The number of victims is still not known, but there is already considerable material damage. Several thousand people are homeless. In these tragic circumstances, my thoughts go to the country’s victims, people and authorities.

France heeded the appeal issued by the President of Vanuatu. On Sunday, we sent experts to assess people’s needs. The French armed forces, in conjunction with the Red Cross and our Australian and New Zealand partners, are taking steps to deliver emergency humanitarian aid to the devastated islands by sea and air. A maritime patrol aircraft has been assigned air reconnaissance missions, which are essential due to the archipelago’s layout. In Paris, the Ministry’s crisis and support centre is mobilized. Despite difficult communications, our embassy over there is in contact with our compatriots and six of them have been evacuated to Nouméa. I am personally following all these operations.

This disaster occurred as the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction was taking place in Sendai. We know that 70% of so-called natural disasters are linked to climate disruption. Cyclone Pam is a new warning for the international community to shoulder its responsibilities.

Taking action for the climate means first protecting the most vulnerable people. More than ever, we are up against an emergency. Everything must be done to ensure that the Paris Climate Conference makes an ambitious agreement possible./.

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