Hong Kong, 20 January 2022 – On 15 January 2022, the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai erupted violently. The eruption, which is said to have been one of the biggest in the world in the last 30 years, triggered a 1.2meter-high tsunami, that crashed ashore in coastal areas of Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, as well as several other low-lying Tongan islands.
Tonga has a population of about 105,000, 1 in 3 Tongans is younger than 15 years of age. Based on first estimates, 84% of the population has been affected by the volcanic eruption and tsunami, while almost all (99%) are impacted by the volcanic ash.
The majority of Tonga has been blanketed by of volcanic ash (5-10 cm thick in some areas), impacting on water and food supplies. Air quality is also of concern. Fuel shortages are being reported. Communication with Tonga as well as between Tongan islands remains a challenge, as even satellite phones are only working intermittently.
To cover the anticipated immediate needs of Tongan families affected by the volcanic eruption and tsunami, UNICEF requires US$ 1.16 million (HK$ 9.05 million) in immediate emergency funding.
Based on the limited information and assessment available, UNICEF is mobilizing its emergency supplies prepositioned in the Australian humanitarian warehouse in Brisbane, already preparing to provide lifesaving support. This includes over 2,000 water, sanitation and hygiene kits which includes portable water quality testing kits as well as disinfecting and rehabilitating the affected water system; Health kits containing basic medicines, diagnostic equipment and utensils; Over 100 recreational or ‘Early Childhood Development’ kits for children of all ages; Tents and School-in-a-box sets; Psychological first-aid and support by church volunteers with child-friendly spaces being established for Tongan children and their families. UNICEF will provide technical assistance and support the Government of Tonga in its emergency response as needed.
Here in Hong Kong, we appeal to the public to support UNICEF’s efforts to save children and families impacted by the Volcano Eruption and Tsunami in Tonga. Donation can be made through a designated webpage set up by UNICEF HK at https://donation.unicef.org.hk/en-us?programme_id=77
For more information, please contact:
Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF