Tropical Cyclone Yasa
Tropical Cyclone Yasa made landfall on Fiji's main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu as a Category 5 cyclone on 17 December 2020.
Tragically, four lives were lost as a result of the cyclone.
Tropical Cyclone Yasa caused flooding and damage to buildings and crops on Vanua Levu, with schools and houses destroyed as residents took shelter in public facilities. There was also severe disruption to electrical power supplies and communication services.
The Government of Fiji declared a state of natural disaster on 16 December, ahead of the cyclone making landfall.
The excellent preparedness of the Government of Fiji, including the setting up of evacuation centres, undoubtedly helped limit casualties. During the height of the storm, the Fijian Government reported that over 23,000 people were sheltering in over 450 evacuation centres around Fiji.
Australia's humanitarian assistance
Australia responded to the Government of Fiji's request for assistance by providing $4.5 million to support humanitarian relief efforts and help communities return to normal life as soon as possible.
Australia's $4.5 million package included:
- humanitarian relief supplies such as building materials, tents, medical supplies, solar lighting and hygiene kits
- education supplies to enable children to return to school
- support for international and local NGOs and the Fiji Red Cross to aid their work with affected communities.
Additionally, HMAS Adelaide was deployed for three weeks to support Government of Fiji efforts to provide immediate assistance to thousands of Fijians, including many from remote islands, whose homes, schools and other local infrastructure were damaged or destroyed by the category 5 cyclone.
Members from the Australian Army's 6th Engineering Support Regiment from Brisbane assisted Fijian authorities to clear debris, and repair critical infrastructure and schools.
This included repairing the Galoa Primary School, with students and teachers returning in mid-January to a newly reconstructed classroom, complete with desks, chairs and school supplies.
The Adelaide operated under a COVIDSafe plan agreed between Fijian and Australian Governments.
Australia also sent four Australian Defence Force C-17A Globemaster aircraft which arrived in Fiji to deliver emergency relief supplies to the Fijian Government. The aircraft delivered tents, tarpaulins, water purification tablets and family kits which cater to daily hygiene needs. These were sanitised in line with COVIDSafe protocols to ensure they could more immediately reach those in need.
Two RAAF P-8A Poseidon aerial assessment missions also provided the Fijian Government with an early picture of the scale of the damage caused by TC Yasa in remote locations.
The humanitarian and emergency relief supplies in Fiji that Australia replenished in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Harold in April also helped to meet immediate needs.
Preparations by the Government of Fiji and the Fijian people played a significant role in limiting casualties.
- Operation Fiji Assist – Return of ADF Contingent (19 January 2021), joint media release from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Defence and the Minister for International Development and the Pacific.
- Australia stands with our Fijian Vuvale following Tropical Cyclone Yasa (23 December 2020), joint media release from the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Defence.
- Tropical Cyclone Yasa (19 December 2020), media release from Minister for Foreign Affairs.