Natural hazards such as cyclones, floods, droughts, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions frequently occur in the Pacific region.
Pacific island countries (including Papua New Guinea, Fiji Islands, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands and Vanuatu) rank among the world’s worst affected by disasters in terms of casualties and people impacted.
Due to climate change, this region is witnessing intense fluctuations in weather patterns, including changing temperatures and precipitation, extreme climate events and rising sea levels.
What are the needs?
The humanitarian situation in the Pacific is heavily affected by recurrent and severe natural hazards, from epidemics to tidal surges and wildfires. These events are intensified by environmental degradation, which further damages local populations and their ability to cope with disasters.
Many Pacific island nations have strong gender inequalities, lack of economic diversification and are far away from major trade centres. These characteristics exacerbate their vulnerability to disasters.
With a population of 10 million people spread across a vast area, the number of people at risk of natural hazards may appear low in global disaster statistics. However, the Pacific countries rank among the highest in casualties and people affected by disaster per number of inhabitants.
How are we helping?
In total, the EU has provided nearly €21 million in humanitarian assistance to the Pacific region since 2008, with over €12.4 million of this aid supporting disaster preparedness programmes.
In March 2023, twin cyclones struck the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, leaving thousands of people homeless. This unprecedented storm destroyed homes, schools & medical centres. The EU provided €500,000 to ensure humanitarian support and coordinated the assistance offered by Member States.
When an underwater volcano violently erupted near the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific in January 2022, the EU provided €200,000 in humanitarian funding. This supported over 7,500 people in some of the hardest hit areas.
The EU also coordinated with France to deliver aid via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. This included hygiene kits, family tents, tool kits for shelters, drinking water and non-perishable food boxes.
That same year, the EU joined with international action to support Papua New Guinea when COVID-19 overwhelmed the Pacific countries’ health systems. It provided €1 million to tackle the spread of the virus and strengthen the country’s capacity to deal with the health crisis.
Cyclone Harold struck the South Pacific in 2020. It was the most powerful storm to strike the region since 2016. In response, the EU provided over €500,000 to assist those affected. This aid focused on delivering emergency shelters, clothing, kitchen sets, clean water supply and hygiene kits.
The EU also supported Fiji in 2020 with €800,000 in humanitarian funding to deliver emergency aid to families affected by Cyclone Yasa. The storm wreaked havoc across large parts of the archipelago nation, particularly the second largest island of Vanua Levu.
EU humanitarian projects have assisted multiple community-based disaster preparedness actions, building cooperation across various levels of society from village to national. It has also helped with the standardisation of disaster risk reduction tools. Projects are jointly implemented by public organisations and NGOs.
Last updated: 25/04/2023
Facts & figures
EU humanitarian funding:
Nearly €21 million since 2008
Of this sum, over €12.4 million is dedicated to disaster preparedness programmes