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Environment

Tiny Island Nation of Vanuatu Pledges Millions to Help Australian Firefighters

Why Global Citizens Should Care
The Australian bushfires have devastated large swaths of the country, and have spurred a global outpouring of support. The United Nations’ Global Goals calls on countries to work together to overcome natural disasters. You can join us in taking action on this issue here

The Pacific Island nation Vanuatu pledged 20 million vatu, roughly $250,000 AUD, to Australia to help the country combat the devastating bushfires ravaging towns and cities, according to the Vanuatu Daily Post

Vanuatu is located off the west coast of Australia, near Fiji, and has a population of around 276,000, with a poverty rate of 12.7%. The country’s pledge to Australia is a true case of global citizenship — Vanuatu receives around $66.2 million in Australian aid every year. Put another way, the Australian economy is more than 1,500 times larger than Vanuatu’s, making the generous donation an instance of profound solidarity. 

The United Nations’ Global Goals call on countries to support one another to overcome the natural disasters made worse by climate change. When Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu in 2015, Australia pledged $50 million to the recovery effort

”As a Pacific neighbor and friend, we [Vanuatu] have watched as the horrific fires devastated Australia,” Jotham Napat, the acting prime minister, said in a statement, according to the Daily Post. “We offer whatever assistance we can in this time of need, as Australia has always done to us.

”Australia will remain in our prayers,” he added. “I encourage all churches in Vanuatu to remember our friends in their services.”

The bushfires in Australia are the worst in modern history, having burned more than 12.35 million acres in recent months. At least 24 people have been killed by the flames and tens of thousands have been displaced. The harm done to wildlife is astonishing — an estimated 1 billion animals have been burned alive or suffocated by the smoke. 

Related Stories Jan. 3, 2020 14 Photos That Show the Devastating Impacts of Australia's Bushfires

Vanuatu’s pledge joins a growing movement of international support. Countries such as Canada, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea have provided assistance, and grassroots charity efforts have generated millions of US dollars in donations. 

Napat praised Australia’s firefighters while announcing his government’s commitment. 

”We have watched in awe at your volunteer rural fire services as they gave up their time and holidays to battle this terrible crisis, that has sadly claimed a number of lives,” he said. 

”It demonstrates the true Australian spirit and one which we are very proud of, as your friend and neighbour,” he said.

Learn more about how you can support the relief efforts here

Related Stories Jan. 7, 2020 How You Can Help the Victims of the Australian Bushfires From Wherever You Are in the World