NZ sending more Defence Force engineers to assist Fiji

A grief-stricken woman sobs to Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama after losing everything in the Winston cyclone disaster. Image: Fiji Times FB

More assistance from New Zealand is expected to arrive in the country today.

This was confirmed by a representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, speaking at a briefing on “The humanitarian situation in Fiji caused by cyclone Winston” organised by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The unnamed spokesperson said:

New Zealand currently has 67 defense force personnel on the ground in Fiji with 72 more arriving on a naval vessel on Sunday, along with an engineering company of 180 personnel.

To date, New Zealand has committed more than $3.2m to the response, including immediate relief supplies and construction materials and also technical teams to help Fijian authorities assess the extent of the damage and plan a response as well as medical, engineering and water production teams to support the government of Fiji’s response.

New Zealand joins with others here today to offer our very sincere condolences to the people and government of Fiji for the terrible loss of life and economic, social and environmental devastation at the hands of Tropical Cyclone Winston.

We are very thankful for the preparedness and leadership of the Fijian Government  who ensured the consequences of Cyclone Winston was less severe to what it could otherwise have been.

New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully is also expected to be in Fiji tomorrow to offer his condolences in person and show support to the people and government of Fiji.

Heartbreaking but an inspiration reported that Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said while it had been heartbreaking to witness the devastation left behind by “monster” cyclone Winston, it had also been a great inspiration for him to see the Fijian spirit alive and well.

Bainimarama said in the face of such adversity where family members had been lost or injured and many houses destroyed, he had been greeted with smiles around the country.

He said he was determined that the government would do everything it could and as quickly as possible to help those affected by Winston “get back on their feet”.

He added that the government was doing everything humanely possible to deliver water, food and shelter to everyone in affected areas.

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