Vanuatu still in need of aid in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Harold

11:02 am on 19 May 2020

Vanuatu continues to be in desperate need of aid in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Harold, which swept through the Pacific in early April.

An RNZAF Hercules assists with aid efforts to Vanuatu and Fiji

An RNZAF Hercules assists with aid efforts to Vanuatu and Fiji Photo: NZDF

The islands of Espiritu Santo and Pentecost are among the most affected, with severe damage to the country's housing stock.

A New Zealand Defence Force Hercules has travelled to Vanuatu to deliver more than 13,500 kilograms of supplies.

Wing commander Lisa D'Oliveira of the RNZAF's No. 40 squadron told Morning Report: "We were very briefly on the ground there, we come in from the southwest of the island so we don't see a huge amount of the island but we have sent some P3 Orions up there to do some reconnaissance and they saw pretty excessive damage, buildings, infrastructure and homes damaged, and a lot of crops as well.

"We took quite a lot of humanitarian aid with us - there was things like tarpaulins, shovels, tools that they will use hopefully to build temporary shelters, get their crops going again, cleaning products, sanitation kits and some kits for mothers and infants as well."

There was still a big need for aid, especially for hard to reach areas, she said.

The Covid-19 pandemic meant the NZDF had to be very cautious - Vanuatu has no recorded cases of the novel coronavirus.

"We do take some extra care and sanitise all the cargo before we load it and it's sanitised once again when it arrives - we saw some of the locals sanitising it."

NZDF did not take any Covid-19 related equipment - just aid related to the cyclone.

It was unclear if any more aid flights would be required, but the NZDF was ready to do so if needed.

The flight was only on the ground for about two hours in Vanuatu, so there was no time to discuss the situation - cyclone or Covid-19 - with the locals, D'Oliveira said.