The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)


Statement of support for Tonga

The recent eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano is the largest recorded event of its kind on the planet in three decades. It triggered tsunamis across the Pacific and beyond.

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Waves reaching 1.5 meters high wiped out homes, roads and crippled communications as well as other vital infrastructure along the west coast of Tonga's main island, Tongatapu, and the 'Eua and Ha'apai islands. The eruption sent a giant cloud of gas and ash into the atmosphere, blanketing vast areas of the island archipelago in a thick layer of ash – polluting water supplies and threatening the health of communities.

Speaking in response to the unprecedented disaster to hit this Pacific nation, UNOPS Director of Implementation Practices and Standards, Nick O'Regan, said that the organization stands in solidarity with the people and the government of Tonga in these difficult times.

“While the full extent of the damage that has been caused is still unknown, we do know that people’s lives and livelihoods have been put at risk, and an international recovery effort will be needed to help those affected as soon as possible.

Nick O’Regan - Director, Implementation Practices and Standards

"The events in the Pacific serve as a reminder of the urgent need for resilient and sustainable infrastructure, designed so that to the greatest extent possible, communities can withstand extreme weather events and natural hazards, so they can survive and thrive," he added.

“We need to plan and develop infrastructure that can withstand shocks and that factors in the interconnected nature of our world – including the relationship between infrastructure and its surrounding environment,“ he said.

Sanjay Mathur, UNOPS Director for Asia, said that the organization has already reached out to local partners and financing agencies to offer support.

“Coordinated action is needed at this early stage to ensure that services provided by key infrastructure across the country continue,” he said. “With the experience of emergency procurement and post-disaster assessments in Tonga, UNOPS is well-positioned to ensure the continuation of vital services to communities."

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