The NRL, in partnership with UNICEF Australia, is calling on the Rugby League community to unite in support of the people affected by the aftermath of Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu.
To kick off Rugby League’s support for the campaign, the NRL has pledged $50,000 to UNICEF’s rapid response network, through which all members of the community can donate.
NRL CEO Dave Smith said the NRL was supporting UNICEF Australia to help communities rebuild Vanuatu and provide emergency relief.
“It has been devastating to see what has occurred in Vanuatu,” Mr Smith said. “Given Rugby League’s strong links to the Pacific region, we wanted to not only support UNICEF’s appeal, but to commit a donation ourselves.
“Almost 40 percent of NRL players are from the Pacific, and many of us in the game have a deep connection with the region. As a community, Rugby League has a powerful voice and with a combined effort across the Rugby League family we can work together to help those suffering.
“I encourage fans of the game to do what they can to help those who have been devastatingly affected by Cyclone Pam.”
North Queensland Cowboys winger Justin O’Neill has expressed his gratitude towards those helping the people of Vanuatu, having spent much time on the islands with his mother’s family.
“It is heartening to know the Rugby League community is getting together and supporting the people of Vanuatu in what has been a tough time the past few weeks,” he said.
“While my mum’s family escaped the worst of Cyclone Pam, there are plenty of people she knows who weren’t as lucky on the islands, and to know they are in people’s thoughts would mean a lot to them as it does to our family.
“They are resilient people and will bounce back. And with help from the NRL and the larger league community it will make things so much easier.”
UNICEF Australia Chief Executive Norman Gillespie said: “UNICEF Australia has acted swiftly to respond to the needs of children and their families and will continue to support our Pacific neighbours on their long road to recovery.
“We thank the NRL and the Rugby League community for so willingly lending a hand to the people of Vanuatu when they need it most. We urge you to please donate, and donate now to NRL’s Vanuatu Appeal.
Vanuatu is a country of more than 80 islands, with a projected population of 270,000 people, and according to the United Nations ‘Flash Appeal’, the category 5 cyclone has affected half of the country’s population, with widespread damage across all six provinces of the archipelago.
UNICEF started its emergency response in the Vanuatu capital of Port Vila and is now working across the worst hit of the low-lying islands.
UNICEF’s priorities are to ensure children stay healthy. That means moving medical supplies in and getting clean water to families.
For more information on UNICEF’s relief efforts in Vanuatu please visit: www.unicef.org.au/nrl