A major volcanic eruption is threatening, forcing the evacuation of more than 11 thousand residents of Ambae Island in Vanuatu.

The Manaro Voui volcano has already rained rock and ash on villages, forcing the villagers to evacuate to other islands, with the help of the Australian Defence force.

The Australian Navy launched Operation Vanuatu Assist - providing tents and food to the Islands now hosting the Ambae Islanders , who escaped in a variety of civilian vessels.

More than a dozen evacuation centres have been established in schools, churches and on sports grounds in other areas of the Pacific archipelago.

Relief has arrived thanks to the Australian and New Zealand Defence force but the displacement could last for months. Although the threat from the volcano has eased, the status is still at level four, the second highest rating. It could take months for the volcano to settle down enough to allow the islanders to return to Ambae.

3,000 of the residents have been taken to Luganville on the Island of Santo.

The Anglican Diocese of Vanuatu and New Caledonia has its diocesan headquarters on Santo - but its resources have been stretched to breaking point in providing help to the evacuees.

“We are attempting to provide for the ongoing material needs of 3,000 Ambae residents and are appealing to our Anglican family across Australia for assistance.” said Bishop James Ligo of the Anglican Church of Melanesia.

The Archbishop of Sydney's Anglican Aid has projects on Vanuatu and helped provide emergency relief after Cyclone Pam in 2015.

Anglican Aid has launched an emergency appeal in an attempt to raise $100,000 for ongoing food and other material need.

The appeal web page is now open.

Photo: Air Force personnel from RAAF Base Amberley Air Movements section begin loading a C-17A Globemaster aircraft with humanitarian aid and equipment for Operation Vanuatu Assist 2017. Photographer LSIS Jake Badior