The French Ambassador to Vanuatu, Pierre Fournier, said France’s assistance to the Vanuatu Government and the people in such times of double crisis like the COVID-19 and the TC Harold is a ‘Spirit of Solidarity’.
Vanuatu must respond to an unprecedented challenge of a double crisis, the coronavirus and TC Harold, and France has mobilized for several weeks to provide assistance.
According to the French Ambassador, Pierre Fournier “this aid, diversified, mobilizes many actors: the FRANZ partners — France, Australia, New Zealand — are in contact with each other and coordinate their action with the NDMO and the ministry of climate change.
“The French response,” he continues, “also mobilizes the Red Cross and the High Commission of New Caledonia, but also the French Army in New Caledonia, FANC, and our armed forces in the Pacific, which ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to Port- Vila. Between all of these actors, a huge spirit of solidarity has taken place.”
In regard to the coronavirus, the French embassy has organized with the authorities of New Caledonia, a regular airlift which allows the samples to be analyzed, to be transported to the Medipole in Noumea whenever necessary. The embassy organizes and finances each of these flights.
“All the tests were negative,” said the ambassador, “it is a relief, but also proof of the effectiveness of the protection and prevention work put in place by the Vanuatu authorities. “
Concerning the disaster caused by Harold, a CASA plane from the French Army in New Caledonia has already delivered 2 tons of humanitarian supplies to deal with the emergency. A second larger delivery, mainly made of tarpaulins, is in preparation and should arrive here in the coming days.
“All this humanitarian material is taken from the stock that the Crisis Center of the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs pre-positioned in Noumea in 2019, precisely to be able to react more quickly, alongside our partners FRANZ, in the event of a crisis in the region,” said the ambassador. “I’m coming back from Santo and Pentecost, and the extent of the damage is beyond anything I had imagined.
“The challenge of managing two crises at the time, is unexpected for the government of Vanuatu as it is for us,” he said, “since it adds heavy constraints to operations that are already complicated. France, which has to face the COVID epidemic for which it is already mobilizing a lot of resources, wanted to be present and united alongside the people of Vanuatu.
“After the crisis, there will be reconstruction, and we are already studying, with the government of New Caledonia, how we are planning our contribution.”