The Australian Government will provide an initial $800,000 (US$506,804) to support the Government of Vanuatu’s immediate response to Tropical Cyclone Lola, and is liaising closely with the Government of Solomon Islands on its needs following the cyclone.

The package will provide essential items for impacted communities, including shelter and water purification supplies, in line with the Government of Vanuatu’s priorities.

Funding will also support the Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP) with leading Australian NGOs, to deliver additional essential, targeted and effective humanitarian assistance to local communities impacted by the cyclone.

This builds on Australia’s ongoing support to Pacific communities and governments, to better prepare for and respond to disasters, including through the AHP Disaster READY programme.

The Royal Australian Air Force has supported Vanuatu and Solomon Islands with aerial assessments of the damage caused by the cyclone and will assist with the delivery of humanitarian relief supplies.

Australia is also working closely with France and New Zealand through the FRANZ humanitarian coordination mechanism, which coordinates support from the three partners at the request of Pacific partners.

Australia is a reliable and steadfast partner to countries in the Pacific in times of need. Australia will continue to provide support to the governments and people of Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, as required, to recover and rebuild.

Foreign Minister, Senator Penny Wong said: “Our thoughts are with the people living in communities impacted by Tropical Cyclone Lola. For Vanuatu, this is the third Tropical Cyclone they’ve experienced this year.

“In times of crisis, the people and the Governments in the Pacific can always rely on Australia, as a member of the Pacific family, to support their response.”

Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy said: “Australia is proud to be a longstanding partner in the Pacific at times such as this. We know it’s crucial to move quickly to help our partners respond, to minimise the long-term impacts.
“Working closely with partners through mechanisms like the Australian Humanitarian Partnership and the FRANZ arrangement ensures our efforts are well coordinated and deliver support efficiently to those most in need.”.

Meanwhile, at least two people were killed on Ambrym Island in Vanuatu that was one of the worst hit by severe Tropical Cyclone Lola last week.

The cyclone directly hit the island on October 25 at category four strength.

New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Vanuatu Nicci Simmonds, who visited the island said she saw a lot of damage, with many traditional homes flattened.

She said the deaths came from one of the health clinics being destroyed.

“It was one pregnant woman, who hadn’t been able to get medical attention because the roads were out, so she passed away with her unborn child, and there was also an elderly woman who the chiefs had implied had a stroke or a heart attack,” Simmonds said.

The Vanuatu government has declared a State of Emergency (SOE) for Torba, Sanma, Penama, Malampa and Shefa provinces for six months.

Vanuatu’s Minister for Change Change said the SOE does not impact ordinary Ni-Vanuatu people.

“Nothing changes for ordinary citizens and residents,” Regenvanu posted on X (formerly Twitter).

“SOE is directed at Government departments to facilitate response to impacts of TC Lola,” he said.