Pacific Island Forum (PIF) ambassadors to the United Nations gathered virtually on the 21st of January 2022 to pledge their governments’ solidarity and coordinate international action in response to the volcanic eruption of Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai and subsequent tsunami which devastated the Kingdom of Tonga on 14 January 2022.
PIF Chair and Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations H.E. Satyendra Prasad convened the group, reiterating the support expressed by Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General Hon. Henry Puna and calling for coordinated, strategic action under the direction of the Tongan government.
“Given the scale and breath of devastation affecting over 80 percent of the Tongan population and in the context of the COVID pandemic and two recent catastrophic cyclones, it is crucial that international assistance via the UN and bilateral partners is well-coordinated, timely and well-targeted,” said Ambassador Prasad, “PIF ambassadors have an important role to play in support the Government of Tonga’s efforts in this regard”.
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Tonga to the United Nations, H.E. Viliami Va’inga Tone briefed the group, confirming three fatalities and detailing injuries, damage to infrastructure and disruption to services in Tonga. He outlined his government’s response to the disaster, relaying immediate priorities for the government including clean water, communications and sea and air transport.