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Cyclone Winston: New Zealand helps Fiji

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As Fiji responds to the devastation of Cyclone Winston, New Zealand is sending relief supplies and skilled people to help.

Dozens of people have died in the Category 5 cyclone, and almost 35,000 people were forced to leave their homes when the cyclone struck at the weekend.

As well as extensive damage to buildings, water and electricity supply has been badly affected by the most damaging cyclone in Fiji’s history.

With crops also suffering significant damage, food supply is a key concern alongside shelter and sanitation.

In its contribution to the response, New Zealand has sent or will send:

  •  a New Zealand P3 Orion which conducted  surveillance flights to assess damage
  •  a 13-strong Joint Response Team made up of staff from NZDF, Ministry of Health and the NZ Fire Service to assess physical damage and health risks
  •  vital aid supplies, including tents, tarpaulins, tools, generators and food, delivered by daily RNZAF  C-130 Hercules flights
  •  the Navy’s support vessel HMNZS Canterbury, with patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington
  •  four helicopters
  •  New Zealand Defence Force and New Zealand Fire Service engineers, including plumbers, electricians, and field engineers to help Fiji authorities repair public buildings and clear debris
  • a Medical Assistance Team to provide mobile clinics. 

The New Zealand Government has so far announced more than $2. million in aid.

Tropical Cyclone Winston has now been downgraded to a Category 2 cyclone and is located over open waters southeast of Vanuatu, east of New Caledonia and well southwest of Fiji on a track towards the mid-Tasman Sea.

How you can help

New Zealanders respond generously to support Pacific neighbours in times of emergency.

If you wish to support people affected by Cyclone Winston, the best thing to donate is money, but not clothing, food or other goods, to an emergency appeal.

Aid organisations working in Fiji are assessing what else is needed. Where possible they will source supplies from close to the affected area, which is the most efficient and cost-effective way of getting help to those who need it.

The National Disaster Relief Forum has details about appeals (external link)by NGOs. The New Zealand Red Cross (external link) also has an appeal.

The Fiji Government has set up bank accounts (external link) for international and local donations.

It says the funds will be used directly to benefit Fijians who have been left homeless, without adequate food, water and essential services.

Donated goods can often be difficult to handle for a country recovering from a disaster.

They can be time-consuming and difficult to store, transport and distribute. Sometimes the cost of transporting goods can be more expensive than the value of the goods.

It's best to only donate goods that have been asked for by an aid agency.

Before organising a collection of donated goods:

• find out whether the goods are needed on the ground and if they are appropriate for the country

• make sure you have a good understanding of all costs involved, including freight to the country, transport within the country, and any wharf, handling and customs charges

• make sure you have a clear plan for the goods once they arrive in the affected country, including people who will take responsibility for the logistics and costs of collecting, storing, sorting and distributing the goods.

If you want some more advice about planned fundraising activities and donations, please email publicoffers@mfat.govt.nz.

Read more

Cyclone Winston: How you can help Fiji

Photo gallery: New Zealand responds after Cyclone Winston (external link)