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Defence Force delivering more supplies, returning citizens to Vanuatu

3 June 2020

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is returning citizens and continuing to deliver essential aid to Vanuatu this week, following widespread devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Harold in April.

Since the category five cyclone destroyed crops, infrastructure, and thousands of homes, the NZDF has been working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the delivery of essential supplies.

Five Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) C130H Hercules flights have so far delivered shelter kits including tools and tarpaulins, agricultural tools, generators, water containers, mother and infant kits as well as personal hygiene supplies.

This week, the RNZAF is making two further flights to Vanuatu, bringing the total number of flights to Vanuatu since the cyclone to seven.

Today’s Hercules flight included 58 Vanuatu citizens and permanent residents, who have been flown to Port Vila after the Government of Vanuatu asked for help to get them home following COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Tomorrow, a Hercules will take another load of essential supplies, including kits for building temporary shelters.

Air Component Commander Air Commodore Tim Walshe said the further request from the Vanuatu Government for more aid supplies meant the repatriation of 58 passengers could also be accommodated.

As with all previous aid flights, precautions have been taken to prevent any potential spread of COVID-19.  This has included pre-departure screening of the passengers, use of personal protective equipment on board the aircraft, and sanitation of all aid supplies prior to being loaded on the aircraft and again on arrival in Port Vila.

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