NZ sending cyclone relief to Vanuatu

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New Zealand is sending humanitarian supplies to Vanuatu after the nation was hit by two cyclones within days of each other.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced the departure of a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules from Whenuapai, carrying water containers, temporary shelter kits and family hygiene packages.

“Cyclones Judy and Kevin damaged homes, livelihoods, infrastructure and caused the loss of communications in some areas. The full extent of the impact of the cyclones is still to be assessed,” Mahuta said.

She also announced the deployment of a seven-member team of disaster management experts to assist with the response, including members from Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s Urban Search and Rescue team, the New Zealand Defence Force and MFAT.

“This initial package of assistance includes a financial contribution of $150,000 (US$93,000) to allow the New Zealand High Commission to respond rapidly to requests from the Government of Vanuatu,” she added. “Our whānau in Vanuatu are very much in our thoughts.”

But the Vanuatu response will not affect Aotearoa’s own Cyclone Gabrielle response and recovery, which “remains our top priority”, Mahuta said.

She added that the NZ Government is working closely with Vanuatu, as well as France and Australia, in its recovery response.

“We have first-hand experience of the challenges that Vanuatu will face in the coming days and weeks, and are watching the situation closely.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners and respond to Government of Vanuatu’s requests for assistance where we can,” Mahuta said.

SOURCE: TVNZ/PACNEWS