The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing an additional $2.5 million in humanitarian assistance to support people affected by volcanic eruptions and tsunami waves in Tonga. On January 14, Tonga’s Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano began erupting. A strong second eruption triggered tsunami waves that reached Tonga and many other Pacific Island countries. The eruptions and subsequent flooding have affected approximately 100,000 people—nearly the entire population of Tonga—and damaged or destroyed houses and public infrastructure.
In partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Tonga Red Cross Society, USAID is providing critical water, sanitation, and hygiene supplies and supporting disease prevention messaging campaigns to reduce the spread of infectious disease. USAID will also work through partners to address food security, agriculture, livestock, and shelter needs among the most affected populations.
This new funding is in addition to an initial $100,000 in immediate assistance and longstanding programs in Tonga that are already responding to urgent needs. USAID also works year-round in Tonga to help communities prepare for and be more resilient to natural disasters. With more than $8 million in existing programs across the Pacific region, USAID partners have been on the ground responding. For example, local partners are distributing thousands of first aid and hygiene kits that were prepositioned in Tonga. Another USAID partner is providing emergency telecommunications support after the eruption broke an underwater communications cable, leaving most of Tonga without communication and internet access. USAID also works with partners to maintain air and sea transport capabilities that stand ready to deliver relief supplies to people on all affected islands and in remote communities.
USAID disaster experts in the region are coordinating response efforts with humanitarian partners and other donors like France, Australia, and New Zealand. The U.S. is committed to helping the people of Tonga and stands ready to provide support.