UNITED NATIONS, March 17 (Xinhua) -- UN agencies and aid organizations are stepping up relief efforts, and continue to deploy supplies and personnel to support response of the government of Vanuatu around four key priorities: evacuation centers, assessments, aid distribution and shelter, a UN spokesman said here Tuesday.
"On Vanuatu, aerial assessments following cyclone Pam continue to indicate that there is severe and widespread damage across the bigger islands of Efate, Erromango and Tanna, with around 3,370 people sheltering in more than 48 evacuation centers across the country," Farhan Haq, the deputy UN spokesman, said at a daily news briefing here.
"Water supply has been restored to 80 percent of Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, with work ongoing to restore water in other areas that are so far accessible," Haq said. "Water, sanitation and hygiene kits have been provided to families in evacuation centers."
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ( OCHA) said that while 1,400 shelter kits have arrived in the island country, an estimated 12,000 kits and 24,000 tarpaulins are urgently required, he said.
Vanuatu is a nation that comprises more than 80 islands.
A UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team arrived in the Pacific Ocean archipelago on Monday and began its work in supporting the government of Vanuatu in coordinating the humanitarian response to Cyclone Pam.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is working to support the response in all areas of its mandate, including emergency food assistance, logistics and telecommunications interventions.
The UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU), for its part, said Tuesday that it has dispatched emergency telecommunications equipment to Vanuatu following the devastation caused by the cyclone. At the request of the government, ITU has sent 40 satellite phones, 10 Broadband Global Area Network terminals, and 35 solar panels to support relief coordination efforts.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is also distributing health supplies for children and families affected by the cyclone, including basic health kits, oral rehydration salt sachets, zinc tablets, vitamin A capsules, and de-worming tablets.
The UN agency has also donated tents, school backpacks with school supplies, recreation kits, hygiene kits, water tanks, soap for hand washing, collapsible water containers and water purification tables.
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Cyclone Pam, which also impacted the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu, had been one of the most powerful cyclones to make landfall, with winds having been estimated to have reached 250 km/ hr with gusts of 320 km/hr.