Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel are progressing operations to support the Fijian Government with recovery efforts following Tropical Cyclone Yasa, delivering much-needed supplies to remote islands impacted by the category five cyclone.
ADF personnel have been able to move on the next phase of their work, having completed their full quarantine. The majority of personnel quarantined on board HMAS Adelaide, while a small ADF construction team worked onshore in COVID-19 safe bubbles.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne said ADF teams have already made a good start in support of their Fijian counterparts.
“A small team from Army’s 6th Engineer Support Regiment has been working hard alongside the RFMF as part of the initial phase of Operation FIJI ASSIST,” Minister Payne said.
“Together, they have finished more than half the remediation and reconstruction works on the Galoa School and helped purify and provide more than 100,000 litres of clean water to the island of Vanua Levu.
“It is vital that HMAS Adelaide’s personnel are now able to cover the full breadth of their work, in particular delivering supplies to the more remote islands.”
MRH-90 helicopters have also supported the movement of about 14 tonnes of building materials and 14 tonnes of humanitarian disaster relief stores from ship to shore.
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC, said now that the ADF can move freely onshore, they are able to provide support where it is needed most, including support to distribute temporary classroom facilities, deliver other critical supplies, and clear debris.
“We are proud to support our Fijian Vuvale, just as they supported us during the Black Summer Bushfires last year,” Minister Reynolds said.
“Our support is assisting the Fijian Government and Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) as they lead the response to repair critical infrastructure – particularly school buildings – to meet the immediate and ongoing needs of their community.
“Completing repairs in time for the 2021 school year in Fiji will limit disruptions to education as a result of this natural disaster.
“I’m encouraged by the ADF’s ability to adapt and overcome challenges posed by the pandemic so we can assist our friends and neighbours, just as we did in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands in 2020.”
The ADF will also focus on supporting essential recovery tasks with the RFMF.
Personnel completed mandatory 14-day quarantine period and all returned negative COVID-19 test results. They will continue to maintain COVID-safe protocols to ensure the protection of Fijian people from COVID-19.