Australian aid has refurbished and restored 33 schools across Fiji after Tropical Cyclone Yasa destroyed classrooms.
The three-week recovery operation also saw Australia work alongside Fijian leaders to remove fallen trees, clear broken power lines and mend critical infrastructure, all left following a horrific category five cyclone that left homes and villages in ruins and four people dead.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said students and teachers could return this week to Galoa Primary School, located in one of the nation’s worst affected areas. The school has been restocked with desks, chairs and school supplies.
“Australia is proud to contribute to the Government of Fiji’s swift and effective response to Tropical Cyclone Yasa,” Payne said in a statement. “After the trauma they have suffered in the aftermath of Yasa, it is wonderful to see teachers and students back in the classroom for the new school year.”
School is back in session! 📖 #OurPeople have successfully completed the reconstruction of Fiji’s Galoa Island Primary School. Working alongside the @Rfmf_Media the teams rebuilt the school after it was destroyed by Tropical Cyclone Yasa. #GoodSoldieringpic.twitter.com/eSQlGmhrNa— Australian Army (@AustralianArmy) January 22, 2021
Australia has been a long time aid supporter to Fiji.
It was less than a year ago that Australia responded to Cyclone Harold, a tropical cyclone that tore through the Pacific, killing dozens and leaving 180,000 Fijians with damaged homes and livelihoods.
Australia’s response saw 224 tonnes of humanitarian relief supplies donated across Fiji and Vanuatu, including shelter for over 8,000 people, 13,000 hygiene kits, 11,000 kitchen supplies, 12,000 bed nets and 1,200 solar lanterns, as well as counselling support.
Funds were also directed to UNFPA, which distributed dignity kits to vulnerable women and girls in the nation’s south.
This year, $65.6 million in Australian aid will go to Fiji, up from $58.8 million across 2019 - 2020.
Australia’s Tropical Cyclone Yasa response comes almost exactly one year after Fiji lent a helping hand to Australia amid the nation’s unprecedented Black Summer Bushfires — with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) spending a month helping remove hazardous trees and clearing roads.
"This week marks one year since the RFMF’s Bula Force arrived in Australia to assist us in responding to the Black Summer Bushfires,” Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said in a media release. “[Australia’s] rapid response [to Fiji] over Christmas represents the spirit of our vuvale partnership and is reminiscent of the teamwork we saw between the two forces in 2020.”