Navy provides assistance in Vanuatu

The Australian Defence Force deployed humanitarian supplies in September to provide relief to communities displaced from Vanuatu’s Ambae Island with the island’s Manaro Volcano threatening to erupt.

Thousands of people have now been evacuated from the island, with about 8,000 taken to the island of Espiritu Santo, and about 3,000 more taken to the nearby islands of Pentecost and Maewo.

Australian Defence Force and AUSAID personnel have been delivering much needed humanitarian supplies. Tents for temporary shelter, kitchen supplies and lighting are providing relief to families and improving community safety. Clean water is also being provided.

The Australian Deputy High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Susan Ryle, said the aid was helping people who had to leave practically everything behind on the island.

“The government in Vanuatu declared a state of emergency and evacuated the entire Island of Ambae,” Ms Ryle said.

“People are displaced, and they’re being housed in Santo, Maewo on the Island of Pentecost.

“The Australian aid includes tents for families, community tents, and a number of kitchen sets carrying pots and pans that can be used for basic cooking.”

HMA Ships Huon and Choules have been deployed to assist in the distribution of aid and supplies to those that have had to leave their homes. Sailors from Huon assisted local aid workers in erecting community tents in Luganville, to shelter some of the Ambae Island residents.

Many displaced residents have been without shelter since arriving in Luganville, where the population swelled to almost double its usual size. Other Huon crew members erected tents on the island of Espiritu Santo.

Choules has assisted with the distribution of relief supplies between the islands.

Navy’s contribution is part of Operation VANUATU ASSIST, which is the Australian Defence Force Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief contribution to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade-led support to the Government of Vanuatu.

Director Humanitarian Operations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Craig Kentwell, said it was fantastic to have the Australian Navy helping in the region.

“There are many men and women from the ship who are happy to volunteer and come up and help out the people who’ve been evacuated from Ambae,” he said.

“Most of the stuff that we have here was delivered by an Australian Defence Force C17 Globemaster.”

The Australian Defence Force’s first two loads of supplies via the C17 transport aircraft added to those already provided by New Zealand.