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What is the situation in Tonga right now?

The situation in Tonga is still serious and humanitarian needs are high. Over 80% of the population (about 84,000 people) were affected by the disaster. Homes and vital infrastructure have been destroyed, water sources contaminated, and the agricultural sector has suffered, with damage to crops, livestock and fisheries.

Before the tsunami hit, Tonga Red Cross helped evacuate many of the communities that have now been inundated; Mango, Nomuka, Fonoifua, Lulunga, and Atata islands. Many of the families are staying with relatives or in evacuation centres. They will need long-term support to help recover and rebuild.

Critical relief operations are continuing during the COVID lockdown, under strict protocols. Tonga Red Cross teams have been provided with PPE including masks so they can continue to distribute relief items to vulnerable communities, including those who are isolating.

What is the NRL’s relationship with the Australian Red Cross?

We are proud to partner with the Australian Red Cross to raise funds for the Australian Red Cross Tonga Recovery Appeal. The partnership between the NRL and Red Cross will run during the upcoming NRL trial games, scheduled between February 18 to February 21, 2022 and February 25 to February 28, 2022, and NRL Women’s Premiership Round 1, scheduled to be played on February 27, 2022.

How will donations to the Tonga Recovery Appeal be used?

Donations to the Australian Red Cross Tonga Recovery Appeal will support the response to the Tonga volcanic eruption and tsunami and Australian Red Cross’ broader work with Tonga Red Cross.

Australian Red Cross has worked together with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and Tonga Red Cross to design a 24-month recovery operation that addresses the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable 17,000 people across the country, including:

  • Distribution of emergency shelter items
  • Support to help people recover their livelihoods through cash and voucher assistance and planting home gardens and crops
  • Access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene
  • Strengthening Tonga Red Cross’s preparedness for future disaster events (including infrastructure, transport and set up of Emergency Response centres)

In the event excess funds are raised by Australian Red Cross through activity driven by the NRL, Australian Red Cross and the NRL will work together to distribute the excess funds to Tonga Red Cross to fund their broader work.

How has Red Cross helped people affected by the tsunami?

Tonga Red Cross has been helping people since the tsunami hit on 15 January. They supported evacuation and distributed relief items immediately using pre-positioned stock they had in country.

As of 2 February, Tonga Red Cross had distributed 163 tarpaulins, 244 kitchen sets, 235 hygiene kits, 600 blankets and 375 solar lanterns.

Australia Red Cross has shipped water containers, mosquito nets, solar lanterns, tarps and shelter kits to bolster relief supplies already in the country.

Tongan Red Cross have also initiated 'Safe and Well' phone calls (one-two minute phone calls via satellite phones) for those persons in Tonga seeking to restore contact with their families abroad. As of 26 January, Tonga Red Cross had facilitated 150 Safe and Well calls between Tongans and their loved ones overseas.

The Restoring Family Links team at Australian Red Cross is also collecting 'Anxious for News' requests from concerned families in Australia wishing to utilise the Red Cross network to facilitate contact with assistance from ICRC Suva.

How have previously donated funds been used for Tonga?

From 19 January – 23 January 2022 donations to the Red Cross International Disaster Fund up to a value of $346,500 supported Red Cross’ response to the Tonga volcanic eruption and tsunami and our broader work with Tonga Red Cross.

These funds have supported:

  • emergency relief items to support the response operation
  • specialist aid workers to assist local teams to respond
  • support to the core operating costs of Tonga Red Cross to ensure they can continue to deliver a strong disaster response program and services to affected communities
  • emergency assistance including shelter, health, water and sanitation, and protection initiatives

Red Cross’ support for Tonga is informed by a locally led response and appropriate to the needs and capacities on the ground. The total population of Tonga is approximately 107,000 – roughly the same as the City of Bendigo in Victoria – and prior to the disaster the Tonga Red Cross was a small team of 10 staff and 40 volunteers. Australian Red Cross has been working with the Tonga Red Cross for several years as one of its priority country partners in the region, including disaster preparedness and response such as emergency stock management, volunteer training and community engagement. We will continue to work closely with Tonga Red Cross and are standing by ready to respond to the humanitarian needs.

Can I donate canned food or other goods?

Red Cross’ really appreciate the generosity but they’re unable to accept or distribute donated goods.

Red Cross’ experience with emergencies shows that donations of money, where possible, help affected communities recover sooner. This is because people can make their own choices – including purchasing the goods they need for their own families.

If you have collected goods already, Red Cross’ gratefully accept donations of clothing at their retail stores, to on-sell and raise funds to support their work. Visit redcross.org.au/stores to find out more.

I’m worried about a loved one who may have been caught up in the disaster.

If Australians need assistance to locate Australian family members caught up in the disaster, please contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 1300 555 135 or +61 262 613 305.

For Australians looking for missing Tongan family members, please contact Australian Red Cross’ Restoring Family Links service via 1800 875 199 (free call from a landline) or tracing@redcross.org.au. More information is available at www.redcross.org.au/tracing

Can people volunteer to help?

Thank you for your kind offer to volunteer. Australian Red Cross does not send volunteers into international emergency operations, so we are unable to deploy you to this response. If you are interested in volunteering domestically, please visit redcross.org.au/volunteer to apply for open volunteer roles including emergency preparedness, response and recovery.

Donate

All money raised as part of the Red Cross Tonga Recovery Appeal will support Tongans recover and rebuild. By donating, you will be supporting Tongans rebuild homes, access clean drinking water and get back on their feet.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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