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Tongan Americans Seek White House Support of Tongan Disaster Relief

Washington, D.C.—Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC) released the following statement regarding the volcanic eruption and tsunami in the Kingdom of Tonga on January 15th, 2022. The impact destroyed communications and left many residents in need of aid and relocation. EPIC, its partners, and allies have sent a letter to the White House calling to provide a statement and further humanitarian relief. The full letter can be found here.

The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano and tsunami destroyed homes, schools, churches, businesses, and agriculture. To date, three lives have been claimed. The aftermath has left many residents displaced while volcanic ash has polluted air and freshwater sources, leaving residents at risk of long term health issues. Scientists are racing to understand the once-in-a-century event. There is no question that this event will have lasting global impacts as reverberations were felt as far as Alaska and tsunamis traveled as far as Japan, Chile, and the West Coast of the U.S.

The road to recovery will be a long-term process to rebuild its infrastructure and restore hope in the Tongan people. Food, water, medical supplies, personal protective equipment, and other essential necessities will be a continuous need in the coming months, however this need for aid also leaves the population increasingly vulnerable to COVID-19 exposure.

Partnerships between Tongan women-led community-based organizations, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations have mobilized to provide direct relief through mutual aid with Tongan NGOs. The collective, consisting of Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC), Motivating Action Leadership Opportunities (MALO), the Vakatasi Foundation, and the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), has sent a letter to the White House, requesting the Biden administration to release a statement in support of the Tongan American community and commit to providing further aid for Tonga’s relief and recovery.