Lifeline for Vanuatu in the wake of tropical cyclones Judy and Kevin

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Australia has topped up its aid contribution to Vanuatu’s government, with another $8 million (US$5.36 million) to help the Pacific Islands neighbour respond to two devastating tropical cyclones.

The aid boost brings Australia’s total humanitarian response package to the nation to AUD$12.5 million (US$8.37 billion).

Pat Conroy, Australia’s minister for international development and the Pacific, made the funding announcement while visiting Vanuatu last week. This was his third visit to Vanuatu in five months.

In a statement, the minister said the funds supported immediate assistance to vulnerable households through support for livelihoods and food security.

“Australia is proud to stand with Vanuatu during this challenging time, to listen and to support Vanuatu’s response to these devastating cyclones – now and into the future,” Conroy said.

When the twin tropical cyclones hit Vanuatu’s islands in March, the Australian government deployed RAAF aircraft, a rapid assessment team and HMAS Canberra, with 600 personnel and Chinook helicopters, to deliver humanitarian supplies.

Conroy said assistance would also be given to education and health early recovery priority areas. This included essential repairs to health facilities and schools, as well as basic education supplies that were lost in the storms.

The money will be delivered via the Australian Humanitarian Partnership and the Vanuatu Skills Partnership.

Conroy also met with Vanuatu’s government ministers for foreign affairs, climate change and finance, as well as Prime minister Ishmael Kalsakau.

Following meetings with locals in some of Vanuatu’s hardest-hit communities, Conroy said he was moved by the plight of their struggle.

“It is incredibly moving to see the impact of the unprecedented back-to-back cyclones and to hear from those who’ve had their homes and community infrastructure destroyed,” he said.

SOURCE: THE MANDARIN/PACNEWS