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Australia has delivered vital medical and humanitarian supplies to the Pacific while they dually face COVID-19 and Cyclone Harold.
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Finance & Innovation

Australia Extends Aid to the Pacific’s Cyclone Harold Response


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The Australian government has stepped up to help its Pacific neighbours recover from Cyclone Harold’s trail of destruction.

The tropical cyclone first made contact with the Solomon Islands in early April at a Category 1 rating, before moving across to Vanuatu and spiralling to a Category 5. After making its way across Fiji and Tonga, the storm finally eased — leaving 30 dead and hundreds of thousands without shelter, food and necessities. 

In the days after Cyclone Harold hit, Australia vowed to stand with its region and help in “whatever ways we can.”

Now, almost exactly a month following the devastating natural disaster, Australia has kept its promise, delivering emergency funding and working with Australian and Pacific organisations to distribute humanitarian relief supplies like blankets, tents and hygiene kits. 

Below, we have laid out how Australia is helping the four hardest-hit Pacific nations. 

Solomon Islands

Cyclone Harold first hit the Solomon Islands on April 2 as a Category 1 cyclone. 

The nation’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) reported the loss of 27 lives and extensive damage to buildings, homes and roads throughout the capital of Honiara and various eastern islands. The NDMO put out a call for immediate food, shelter, health, water and sanitation assistance for 150,000 people — and Australia responded with over $90,000 AUD in emergency funding. 

Anglican Overseas Aid, an Australian aid-funded development agency, is specifically working to lead teams to reach remote communities and undertake impact assessments to ensure help is reaching every affected individual. 

Similar development organisations Oxfam Solomon Islands and CARE Australia have rallied to distribute supplies. 

Vanuatu

The full-scale devastation caused by Cyclone Harold in Vanuatu is only just coming to light.

Local reports show over 18,000 homes have been badly damaged or destroyed — leaving 87,000 people in need of temporary shelter. The nation does not have the capacity to shelter this many individuals, according to the Vanuatu Health Emergency Operations Centre, which also explained cases of dengue, malaria and diarrhea are already on the rise. 

Australia is currently providing relief supplies, like blankets and hygiene kits, as well as aiding local health, education and policing response operations. Australia is also assisting non-government organisations like the Red Cross and UNICEF in their efforts to deliver items like emergency shelters and water containers.

After undertaking aerial surveillance, the Royal Australian Air Force has been deployed to help deliver emergency supplies.

Through the Australian aid program SPRINT, the nation is also assisting local organisations in providing gender-based violence support and sexual health services to thousands in the hard-hit Penama and Sanma provinces. 

Fiji

With over 180,000 Fijians affected, the government was quick to call on the international community for assistance. 

In response, Australia supported the government to initially undertake damage surveillance and provide supplies like kitchen utensils, tents and personal hygiene items. The Australian government has also supplied funding for the Fiji Red Cross, which will help the organisation rebuild crucial water infrastructure and offer counselling to affected individuals. 

The Royal Australian Air Force has likewise made various trips to drop off additional necessary supplies. 

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said Australia and Fiji would always assist each other in trying times.

"Just as Fijian personnel supported Australian communities during our recent bushfires, Australia stands with Fiji as family … in its time of need,” she said in a press release. “Australia will directly support the Government of Fiji to mobilise initial response efforts and prioritise the rehabilitation of core services such as schools and health clinics.”

Tonga

An immediate assistance package of $100,000 was provided to Tonga following reports of damage to vital infrastructure and agriculture.

The Australian High Commissioner to Tonga, Adrian Morrison, said Australia would specifically work to support the Tonga Red Cross, Caritas Tonga and the MORDI Tonga Trust to ensure essential supplies and services reach all who have been impacted.

"We welcome their ongoing work to provide much-needed emergency hygiene kits, water, shelter and other essential items for those impacted,” Morrison announced in a media release.