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.
Australia has also offered to assist with aerial surveillance of affected areas and with carrying out assessments and providing relief to the outlying islands affected by the Cyclone.
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 in close cooperation 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.
The full impact of this disaster is still not known. We stand ready to provide further assistance to support Fiji’s relief and recovery efforts.
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. As at 20 February, Smartraveller is advising Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Fiji. If you have any concerns for the welfare of family and friends in the region, you should attempt to directly contact them.
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 ways 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.