Australia to give additional humanitarian assistance to Tonga and Samoa


Debris and road damage in Samoa left by Cyclone Gita

APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 19 FEBRUARY 2018: The Australian Government has announced additional humanitarian assistance to support Tongan communities devastated by Tropical Cyclone Gita.

The joint announcement was made by the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop and the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.

Gita hit Tonga’s main island of Tongatapu and nearby ‘Eua Island on 12 February, causing extensive damage to housing and infrastructure. Over 100 homes have been destroyed and over 1,000 more have been damaged.  Around 4,500 people are staying in evacuation centres. Power remains down across the capital, Nuku’alofa, and the water supply is also affected.

“Our additional funding of $3 million will support the work of the Red Cross Movement, the Tongan Women and Children’s Crisis Centre and Australian NGOs as they deliver urgent help to affected communities, such as shelter and protection services for women and children,” said the statement.

“We will also support the Government of Tonga’s longer term recovery efforts, for example through helping to restore critical infrastructure and health and education services.

“Australia has already sent two ADF C-17 Globemaster flights with humanitarian supplies and has released supplies pre-positioned with the Tongan Red Cross. These include tarpaulins, sleeping mats, water purification tablets, tool kits, cooking equipment and hygiene items to assist over 2,000 people in need. We are working closely with the Tongan Government and humanitarian partners who are distributing these supplies to families left homeless by the cyclone.

The Leone Bridge threatened by floods brought by Cyclone Gita. It was damaged by Cyclone Evan in 2012 and was reconstructed and opened last year under co-funding from the World Bank, the Australian Government and Samoa Government

“This commitment will bring Australia’s total humanitarian support to Tonga to $3.5 million, from within our existing aid programme.

Prior to striking Tonga, Gita struck Samoa as a Category Two storm. In response to a request from the Samoan Government, Australia will provide $155,000 to support debris clearance, aerial surveillance and food assistance for those who have been displaced. An Australian structural engineer will assist with damage assessments.

“Australia stands by our close friends and neighbours in the Pacific,” said the statement.