Australia sends assistance to Torres

The RVS Tukoro departed Port Vila bound for Torres on Tuesday carrying lifesaving emergency supplies to those affected by severe Tropical Cyclone Donna as part of Australia’s support to the Government of Vanuatu-led response.

The Australian-funded patrol boat is carrying supplies including tarpaulins, water purification tables, water containers, desalination units and hygiene kits. Distribution of these supplies will be managed through the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO).

Australia also has humanitarian supplies prepositioned across Vanuatu with the Vanuatu Red Cross Society (VRCS). The VRCS has been working closely with the Government to undertake rapid assessments and distribute initial supplies since last week.

This latest Australian support complements earlier assistance for aerial surveillance, needs assessment and distributions, delivered in partnership with the Governments of New Zealand and France through the FRANZ agreement.

Australia also supported the provision of fuel and logistics supplies to the Vanuatu Police Force for police operations including evacuations.

An Australian Civilian Corps emergency management specialist and an Australian Volunteer logistics specialist continue working with the NDMO to help coordinate response efforts.

Australian-funded NGOs are also working closely with the Government of Vanuatu to support needs assessments and distribution of supplies.

A spokesman said Australia congratulated the Government of Vanuatu for continuing to demonstrate strong leadership in the response to severe Tropical Cyclone Donna.

“Australia remains committed to supporting the recovery of those who have had their homes and livelihoods devastated by this disaster,” he said.

Meanwhile a number of vessels were sent to the Torres Islands over the weekend and more ships departed today, including a French Navy vessel.

National Disaster Management Office director Shadrack Welegtabit said they were utilising stakeholders and humanitarian groups already in Vanuatu to assist.

He said a detailed damage assessment report is due shortly.

“We also have an assessment done for Torres and the assessment team arrived back in Port Vila and we will put together an assessment report and put it together with those people that came back from Torres to do the assessment, and once that report is done, that will be made available.”

Solomon Islands disaster authorities are assessing the impact of the cyclone on remote islands in the country’s easternmost Temotu Province.

Cyclone Donna hovered around the maritime border between Solomon Islands and Vanuatu for several days affecting, on the Solomons side, the islands of Tikopia, Anuta, Duff and Vanikoro.

Solomon Fresh-Beat Online reported that, over the weekend, officers from the National Disaster Management Office and various NGOs left for the affected islands on board the Police Patrol Boat Auki.

They are to conduct disaster impact assessments and distribute emergency relief supplies.

Various local and international NGOs contributed 100 tarpaulins, 300 collapsible jerry cans, 250 hygiene kits to the mission combined with other supplies from the Red Cross and rice and water from the NDMO.

During the trip the assessment teams will also be training in the use of Kobo, the NDMO’s smartphone based data collection system which aims to improve the speed, efficiency and accuracy of disaster assessments.

– Australian High Commission and RNZ