Oceania
cyclone-harold

Pacific megastorm complicates COVID-19 response

A powerful storm that ripped across four Pacific Island nations raises an uncomfortable question for humanitarians on lockdown: how do you respond to a disaster during a pandemic? Cyclone Harold was the first Category-5 storm to make landfall in the Pacific since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic in March. Vanuatu, Tonga and the Solomon Islands saw extensive damage, while some 6,000 people were evacuated in Fiji. COVID-19 has forced the global aid sector to rethink how it responds to disasters when faced with flight cancellations and closed borders. (Photo: NASA via The New Humanitarian)

Oceania

Solomon Islands: ‘irreversible’ oil spill disaster

The Solomon Islands' Prime Minister Rick Hou is threatening to "blacklist" the companies involved in a 100-ton oil-spill near a UNESCO World Heritage Site. "The impact on the marine life and the coral is already massive with much of it irreversible," he said. The bulk carrier MV Solomon Trader ran aground a month ago off Rennell Island, while loading bauxite ore in a cyclone. Because of the storm, it took salvage crews several days before they could reach the stricken craft. Compounding the damage, Indonesian-owned Bintan Mining, which chartered the vessel, continued to operate as the oil flowed into the sea, with other ships maneuvering around the wreckage, churning up the oil. Rennell Island, known locally as Mugaba, is home to some 1,840 people, who overwhelmingly rely on fishing for their livelihood. The World Heritage Site covers the world's largest coral atoll. (Photo via Radio Australia)