UN praise for Australian help to Vanuatu

This article has photo gallery Published on LCDR Alistair Tomlinson (author), ABIS Tom Gibson (photographer)

United Nation workers prepare to board an Australian Army Blackhawk helicopter on the flight deck of HMAS Tobruk during Operation Pacific Assist 2015. (photo: ABIS Tom Gibson)
United Nation workers prepare to board an Australian Army Blackhawk helicopter on the flight deck of HMAS Tobruk during Operation Pacific Assist 2015.

A senior official from the United Nations has credited Australia with saving lives and preventing a much larger disaster in Vanuatu following Tropical Cyclone Pam.

Ms Osnat Lubrani, Humanitarian Coordinator from the United Nations Development Program, said the rapid distribution of humanitarian supplies could not have been achieved without support from the Australian Defence Force.

“The help provided by your country was of immense value and contributed greatly to getting Vanuatu back on its feet,” she said.

“I dread to think what it would have been like without Australian assistance.”

Ms Lubrani made the comments during a two-day visit to HMAS Tobruk, where she was briefed on completed Australian humanitarian support operations on the islands of Erromango and Tanna.

Commanding Officer Tobruk Commander Leif Maxfield said the ship had been tasked to provide logistical support to more than 40 members of United Nations Relief Teams, who were evaluating future support to the northern provinces of Sanma, Penama and Torba.

Tobruk was ideally placed to help as we provide a flexible operating platform and could accommodate and insert their teams into a variety of remote areas,” he said.

Commander Maxfield said that hosting the humanitarian aid workers from various organisations including the United Nations, Red Cross and Care International also provided the opportunity to learn from each others experiences. 

“It was great to support these humanitarian organisations and especially to receive the positive feedback from Ms Lubrani,” he said.

“I would like to thank all the humanitarian organisations HMAS Tobruk partnered with over the past few weeks.

“Together we were able to relieve the suffering of many people in Vanuatu and aid their recovery back to a normal life.”