Humanitarian assistance will continue to flow into the most heavily affected areas of Vanuatu over the Easter period.
The remote islands of Erromango, Tanna and Ambrym Islands are now receiving vital aid, supplies and personnel from the Australian Defence Force, easing suffering during the important religious holiday.
Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, paid tribute to the Australian troops who will be separated from families and friends over Easter.
“Helping our regional friends in times of need is what the Australian Defence Force does best,” Vice Admiral Griggs said.
“The people of Vanuatu have suffered greatly because of Cyclone Pam and the Australian Defence Force is determined to bring some relief this Easter.”
As well as providing villages with much needed food, water, shelter and medical equipment, engineers from the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment are clearing roads, removing debris, and rebuilding community infrastructure.
Elements of the Engineering Support Group on Tanna have conducted preparatory works on Isangel Central School and Lenakel Hospital and will commence major repair and reconstruction works today. Troops have also assisted in distribution of eight tonnes of humanitarian aid stores in cooperation with the World Food Program and World Vision.
At Dillon Bay, Erromango Island, land elements have repaired a church, a distribution centre and a school. The village chief, Jason Mete, said this would help return life to normal for the 600 people of his village.
“We are fortunate to have the Australian troops here bringing us these stores and we would like to thank the people of Australia,” he said.
Yesterday the Australian Defence Force delivered 4,100kg of humanitarian aid food from Port Vila to Ambrym island in central Vanuatu.
Commander Joint Task Force 665 and Navy Captain, Jay Bannister, said the mission continued at a very high tempo, bringing impressive results.
“The impact of our people on the ground has been phenomenal,” he said.
“Seeing the relief, the thanks, the smiles, and the appreciation written across the faces of those that have been struggling for a while gives us a deep sense of pride and accomplishment.”
More than 500 Australian Defence Force personnel are deployed in Vanuatu as part of Operation Pacific Assist 2015.
Latest Defence imagery is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20150757
Operations Pacific Assist Website: http://www.defence.gov.au/Operations/Vanuatu/default.asp