By Arul Louis
United Nations– India in contributing $1 million for relief efforts in the Pacific Ocean Kingdom of Tonga that was devastated by Cyclone Gita last week, according to the UN.
Of that $500,000 would be given as immediate relief to Tonga and another $500,000 would be allocated to it from the India-UN Development Partnership Fund (I-UNDPF), the UN Office of South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) announced Monday.
“Following the assessment of the damages caused and priorities needing support, the Government of Tonga will identify the rehabilitation projects to be supported through the I-UNDPF,” UNOSSC said.
The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the Category 4 cyclone was the worst on record to hit Tonga.
Cyclones of that intensity can have gusts between 225 and 279 kilometres per hour.
The nation’s parliament was destroyed by the storm, which caused extensive damage across the archipelago.
The International Red Cross said that according to initial assessments about 70 per cent of Tonga’s population are affected. Tongatapu, where the capital of the country’s capital NukuEalofa is situated, is among the worst hit areas, it said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent a message of sympathy to Tonga’s Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva, according to a press release from the Suva, Fiji-based Indian High Commission that also covers Tonga.
“India stands in solidarity with the friendly people of the Kingdom of Tonga in this difficult hour of adversity,” Modi said in his message offering the $1 million aid, according to a High Commission press release on Twitter.
The first project under the I-UNDPF is a Climate Early Warning Systems in Pacific Island Countries including the Cook Islands, which covers Tonga and other island nations in the region, UNOSSC said.
“The project aims to increase resilience from natural disasters of these seven Pacific island countries and contribute toward the Sustainable Development Goal of Climate Action,” it added. (IANS)