Canberra: The remote Vanuatu islands of Erromango, Tanna and Ambrym, affected by cyclone Pam are receiving vital aid, supplies and personnel from the Australian Defence Force, easing suffering during the important religious holiday.
Vice Chief of the Australian Defence Force, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, paid tribute to the Australian troops who will be separated from families and friends over Easter.
“Helping our regional friends in times of need is what the ADF does best,” VADM Griggs said.
“The people of Vanuatu have suffered greatly because of Cyclone Pam and the ADF is determined to bring some relief this Easter.”
As well as providing villages with much needed food, water, shelter and medical equipment, engineers from the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment are clearing roads, removing debris, and rebuilding community infrastructure.
Elements of the Engineering Support Group on Tanna have conducted preparatory works on Isangel Central School and Lenakel Hospital and will commence major repair and reconstruction works today. Troops have also assisted in distribution of eight tonnes of humanitarian aid stores in cooperation with the World Food Program and World Vision.
At Dillon Bay, Erromango Island, land elements have repaired a church, a distribution centre and a school. The village chief, Jason Mete, said this would help return life to normal for the 600 people of his village.
“We are fortunate to have the Australian troops here bringing us these stores and we would like to thank the people of Australia,” he said.
Yesterday the ADF delivered 4100kg of humanitarian aid food from Port Vila to Ambrym island in central Vanuatu.
Commander Joint Task Force 665 Captain Jay Bannister RAN said the mission continued at a very high tempo, bringing impressive results.
“The impact of our people on the ground has been phenomenal,” he said.
“Seeing the relief, the thanks, the smiles, and the appreciation written across the faces of those that have been struggling for a while gives us a deep sense of pride and accomplishment.”
More than 500 ADF personnel are deployed in Vanuatu as part of Operation Pacific Assist 2015.