Bangkok/Suva – The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, stands ready to support the government and people of Fiji, in partnership with other United Nations agencies and civil society organizations, to the devastation Tropical Cyclone Winston has wrought in the Pacific island-nation.

On 20 and 21 February, Category 5 Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston – said to be the strongest storm ever recorded in the country -- cut a path of destruction across Fiji’s islands, blowing off roofs, bringing down trees and power lines, and flooding rivers. At least six people are reported dead as of the night of 21 February, but the death toll may rise as Fiji authorities update the situation.

Early reports from the Eastern Division of Fiji indicate extensive damage. Power is out across most of the country. A curfew remains in place to allow emergency services to clear roads and work on restoring power supplies.

At its peak, the cyclone was estimated to have sustained winds of around 230 kmph, gusting to 325 kmph, making it one of the most severe cyclones ever to hit the South Pacific.

UNFPA’s Pacific Sub-Regional Office, based in Suva, along with the UNFPA Asia-Pacific Regional Office in Bangkok are part of the wider UN regional humanitarian team that responds to disasters and other emergencies with coordinated strategy. 

Amid humanitarian emergencies, UNFPA provides a range of lifesaving services focused on pregnant women, new mothers and their infants, and young persons -- distributing dignity kits with essential supplies, establishing reproductive health camps where women can give birth safely, helping create safe spaces for the displaced where women and girls can be protected from gender-based violence, and empowering young persons to participate in the humanitarian response and reach out to their peers.

UNFPA has long responded to humanitarian emergencies across Asia and the Pacific, the most disaster prone region in the world, including Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, the Nepal earthquake and floods in Myanmar triggered by Cyclone Komen last year, as well as Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013.

For the latest updates from Fiji, go to www.reliefweb.int