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Tropical Cyclone Yasa

Damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Yasa in Bua
Damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Yasa in Nabouwalu, Bua. Credit: Fiji DINFO (Department of Information)

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.

Emergency relief supplies arrive on an Australian Defence Force C-17A Globemaster flight into Nadi Airport on 20 December 2020.
Emergency relief supplies arrive on an Australian Defence Force C-17A Globemaster flight into Nadi Airport on 20 December. Credit: DFAT

Australia's humanitarian assistance

Australia is responding 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.

A man carries a box marked ‘Australian Aid’ on his shoulder. He stands in a field with palm trees in the background.
Locals receive humanitarian relief supplies in Bua, Fiji. Credit: DFAT.

Australia's $4.5 million package includes:

  • 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.
Three locals collect humanitarian relief supplies delivered to a field in Fiji. Buildings and palm trees are in the background.
Locals receive humanitarian relief supplies in Bua, Fiji. Credit: DFAT.

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.

Fijian students in Vanua Levu sit at desks in a temporary learning centre on the first day back at school.
Students return to school in Vanua Levu in a temporary learning centre. Credit: DFAT.

The Adelaide operated under a COVIDSafe plan agreed between Fijian and Australian Governments.

A shipping container marked ‘Australian Aid’ sits on the HMAS Adelaide ship as it travels to Fiji.
Humanitarian relief supplies are transported to Fiji on HMAS Adelaide. Credit: Department of Defence.

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 can 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, but the task of repairing and rebuilding infrastructure will be significant.

Australian supplied hygiene kits delivered to Kia Island, Fiji following Tropical Cyclone Yasa.
Australian supplied hygiene kits delivered to Kia Island, Fiji following Tropical Cyclone Yasa. Credit: Fiji NDMO

Travel advice and consular assistance

Australians in Fiji should monitor our advice on Smartraveller.gov.au and subscribe for updates.

Australians should also continue monitoring local sources of information for the latest developments and following the instructions of local authorities.

How you can help

To support those affected by Tropical Cyclone Yasa in Fiji, please consider donating cash, rather than goods. This will help more people to buy what they really need and prevent your donation from ending up in landfill.

To ensure your donation makes an impact, please choose a reputable charity that is involved in the disaster response and relief effort. You can check this via the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) Tropical Cyclone Yasa Emergency Appeal website.

For more information on how to donate responsibly, visit donateresponsibly.org.

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