Fiji is starting to assess the damage to its islands after Tropical Cyclone Winston struck during the weekend. The cyclone tore through entire villages and towns, wrecking homes, buildings and crops, and causing loss of life.
Roads and bridges have been damaged, and flooding continues. Communications infrastructure has also been damaged, although the cellphone network in major centres (Suva, Nadi and Labasa) is functioning.
The New Zealand Government has contributed more than $2 million to help Fiji recover from Cyclone Winston. A New Zealand Defence Force C-130 Hercules arrived in Fiji early on Tuesday morning to deliver 12 tonnes of relief supplies including food, water and tarpaulins for communities. The emergency supplies included tool kits, generators, water and water containers, ration packs and chainsaws for families affected by the cyclone.
How we 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 will be assessing what’s 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 New Zealand Red Cross has launched an appeal. The NZ Disaster Relief Forum will have information as New Zealand NGOs launch appeals.
The Fiji Government has set up bank accounts 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.
While commercial flights have resumed into Fiji, transport to areas outside of main centres is limited as damage to roads and wharves is still being assessed.
It is important that transport links can focus on getting essential supplies to affected communities. 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.
The government is not seeking any volunteers.
It’s important that people who help in a disaster response are working for a humanitarian organisation and are trained in working in disaster situations.
This is for their own safety and so as not to put additional strain on limited resources.
The above information has been taken from www.mfat.govt.nz. Please ensure the authenticity of NGOs and relief organisations and appeals before you donate.