UN urges Pacific island countries to prepare for looming El Nino emergency


UNITED NATIONS: The UN has urged Pacific island nations to prepare now for a looming El Nino emergency which could affect more than 4 million people, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters here Tuesday.

The UN resident coordinator in Fiji, Osnat Lubrani, said that there are suggestions that this El Nino could be as severe as the event in the late 1990s which was the worst on record and brought severe drought to Papua New Guinea and Fiji, Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here.

The developing El Nino is stronger than the last major event of its type in 1997.

“She said several countries are currently in the process of implementing or drafting drought plans, and that the UN stands ready to support these efforts by providing coordination and technical advice,” the spokesman said.

According to the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this El Nino is shaping up to be the strongest since records began in 1950.

El Nino is a natural phenomenon which occurs every two to seven years and lasts between six and 18 months. It manifests as a warming of the surface waters of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. The current El Nino is so strong that in some areas sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are more than 2 degrees Celsius above the long-term average. PNA/Xinhua


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