Tropical Cyclone Winston has caused severe damage in the Pacific. It is the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded to make landfall in Fiji and has also affected areas of Tonga.
Australia has responded to the Government of Fiji’s request for assistance. We are working closely with the governments of Fiji and Tonga and regional partners to assess the humanitarian impact of the cyclone and provide assistance.
Australia's Humanitarian Assistance
Australia is providing an initial $5 million package of assistance to Fiji in an immediate response to the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston.
This initial package has focussed on getting lifesaving support to people across the country and includes:
$1.5 million to the Red Cross to provide immediate relief supplies and support to at least 2,200 families (over 13,000 people), including blankets, shelter and hygiene items. Assessments and distribution are occurring country-wide and aid specialists have been deployed to help with response operations, including providing logistics support
$1.5 million to UNICEF to provide clean water, health and sanitation supplies for up to 10,000 people, as well as temporary learning spaces and supplies for more than 10,000 children
$1.5 million to Australian NGOs which will help meet the lifesaving needs of 45,000 people, including by providing seeds and tools to re-establish food gardens, access to safe water and hygiene supplies
$500,000 to UNFPA and International Planned Parenthood Federation via the SPRINT program which will provide access to up to 80,000 people across Fiji to sexual and reproductive health and family planning services, as well as distribute clean delivery kits to expectant mothers, purchase additional supplies and assist to rebuild damaged health clinics.
This support has provided clean water, shelter and hygiene kits distributed to communities in need.
Australian-funded stores have been distributed by the Australian Red Cross and UNICEF, providing approximately 33,000 people with tarpaulins, blankets, mosquito nets and cooking equipment.
Australian Defence Force (ADF) C17 aircraft have transported humanitarian supplies and personnel to Fiji.
The first of four ADF helicopters commenced operations on 25 February. ADF helicopters will continue flights to support assessment and provision of relief to outlying islands.
The HMAS Canberra sailed for Fiji on 25 February and will deliver 65 tonnes of emergency relief supplies. A contingent of ADF personnel on board HMAS Canberra, including engineers, carpenters, electricians and plumbers, will work with the Government of Fiji to assess and repair critical infrastructure and services.
An Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) travelled to Rakiraki in the north of Fiji on 25 February to treat injured people.
Supporting the assessment efforts are two Australian Civilian Corp specialists working alongside Fijian colleagues in the National Disaster Management Office.
Australia is working in partnership with the Government of Fiji and with the Fiji Red Cross Society, UN agencies and NGOs. Australia is cooperating closely with New Zealand and France through our FRANZ trilateral disaster relief arrangement. We are also working with the Pacific Island Forum members as they identify where assistance is required.
Cyclone Winston passed close by Vava’u Island Group for a second time on Friday 19 February.
The Tonga Red Cross (TRCS) has distributed Australian funded prepositioned supplies, such as tarpaulins, hygiene kits, buckets and mosquito nets. The mosquito nets are also being distributed to groups vulnerable to Zika Virus, particularly pregnant women.
Two Australian Civilian Corps (ACC) disaster management experts are working closely with the Government of Tonga’s National Emergency Management Office.
Please visit the Smartraveller website for the latest Australian travel advice for Tonga and Fiji. The travel advice for Fiji was updated on 22 February. Due to damage to infrastructure, the overall level of advice for Fiji remains at ‘reconsider your need to travel’. If you have any concerns for the welfare of family and friends in the region you should attempt to contact them directly.
If you are unable to contact them and still hold concerns for their welfare, you should call the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s 24 hour Consular Emergency Centre on 1 300 555 135, or +61 2 6261 3305 (if calling from overseas).
If you would like to contribute to Australia’s response to Tropical Cyclone Winston please consider donating to an agency working with affected communities. Often the most effective way to support the relief effort in countries affected by disasters is by providing cash donations through organisations responding to the crisis. The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) has a list of ACFID-accredited non-government organisations. ACFID also has detailed information about public donations.
Follow @AusHumanitarian on Twitter and the Australian High Commission in Suva’s Facebook page for more information about Australia's humanitarian response.