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, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Micronesia, and Vanuatu) rank among the world’s worst affected by disasters in terms of casualties and number of those impacted.
Due to climate change, this region is witnessing intense fluctuations in weather patterns, including changing temperature 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 to wildfires. These events are intensified by environmental degradation, which further affects local populations and their ability to cope with disasters.
Many Pacific island nations grapple with gender inequality, lack of economic diversification, and distance from major trade centres. These factors exacerbate their vulnerability to disasters.
With a population of 10 million spread across a vast area, the number of people at risk of natural hazards may appear low in terms of global disaster statistics. However, Pacific countries rank among the highest in casualties and people affected by disaster per number of inhabitants.
El Niño – a climate phenomenon characterised by the periodic warming of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean – typically occurs every two to seven years and can last for several months. It is expected to strengthen and peak during 2024. El Niño has the potential to trigger extreme weather events such as droughts, heatwaves, floods and tropical storms.
How are we helping?
In total, the EU has provided nearly €21 million in humanitarian assistance to the Pacific region since 2008. Over €12.4 million of this aid supported disaster preparedness programmes. The EU also provided a response to several disasters.
In March 2023, twin cyclones struck the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. They affected over 250,000 people and destroyed homes, schools, and medical centres. The EU provided €500,000 to support the emergency response on the ground, including emergency shelter, health care, and cash assistance.
When tropical cyclone Lola made landfall on Vanuatu in late October 2023, it affected over 110,000 people. The EU provided €200,000 to support the emergency response on the ground, including clean water and health services, and activated Copernicus to provide satellite mapping.
The EU also coordinated with France to send a plane, a helicopter, and a ship via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism for the transport of aid and response teams.
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 and logistical coordination. Projects are jointly implemented by public organisations and NGOs.
Last updated: 02/02/2024
Facts & figures
EU humanitarian funding:
Nearly €21 million since 2008
Of this sum, over €12.4 million is dedicated to disaster preparedness programmes