Fiji To Help Vanuatu, Evacuate Fijians
Fiji will be the first country on the ground in cyclone-stricken Vanuatu with urgent relief supplies if Port Vila airport is open.
A Fiji Airways Boeing 737 aircraft carrying only supplies will leave Nadi today if it is given the clearance from Port Vila.
It has also offered to evacuate Fijians who may be among those injured and severely hit by Cyclone Pam.
Unconfirmed reports said 60 people had died and many injured as Cyclone Pam left behind a trail of destruction across Vanuatu.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama confirmed last night that Fiji would offer help to Vanuatu.
“The Minister for Trade and Minister for Foreign Affairs are working on something,” Mr Bainimarama said.
Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism Faizal Koya also confirmed this last night.
However, Mr Koya said the staff at the Fiji Airways were still trying to determine as to whether it be would be safe enough for the jet to land in Vanuatu.
“We are trying to organise for a flight to go down to evacuate the Fijians from there,” he said.
“The empty flight will be taking down some basic necessities, food items that some of our industry stakeholders have contributed to be taken to Vanuatu and we are still trying for some more Fijian companies to contribute.
“We will try to pack as much as we possibly can especially when we are trying to do this in a very short time.”
He said if everything worked out, the flight would be departing at around midday today.
“We are all in readiness and these items are just immediate help because of the destruction that the tropical cyclone has left behind in Vanuatu and also because we are neighbouring countries, we have to come to their aid.”
Mr Koya has confirmed that relief items such as water, biscuit, flour and other basic necessity items would be taken to Vanuatu.
Meanwhile, the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), is ready to assist in rehabilitation works in Vanuatu if Government makes a commitment to help, says RFMF Land Force Commander Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho.
Colonel Qiliho said they would await Government’s call. The RFMF was ready to offer its engineering capabilities to do rehabilitation work.
“If the Government would commit the Ministry of Health, then we are ready with our RFMF medics to also assist the ministry in any way possible and our engineers.”
Fiji’s assistance is part of its gradual expanding role as a leading player in the region.
It is part of its commitment to help members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (of which Vanuatu is a member) and small island nations.
It’s volunteer scheme in education has grown in popularity.