Prompt Australian Defence Force support to Solomon Islands Government in the wake of last week’s devastating floods has been warmly welcomed by Defence Minister David Johnston.
Defence has an Assessment Team working with Australian Government personnel on the ground around Honiara while providing strategic air-lift support to the Australian humanitarian response, Senator Johnston said late today.
“I commend the efforts of our hard-working ADF team now on the ground in Solomon Islands while also passing on my appreciation to RAAF personnel involved in this vital airlift operation,” he said.
A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17A Globemaster aircraft departed RAAF Base Amberley today transporting Australian Federal Police personnel, a Queensland Fire Brigade Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) team and additional humanitarian aid supplies.
This follows the departure of a RAAF C-130J Hercules carrying Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) officials and the Defence Assessment Team to Honiara on Sunday, 6 April.
A second RAAF C-130J Hercules carrying additional personnel and Australian humanitarian relief supplies arrived in Honiara on Monday, 7 April.
The Defence Assessment Team is conducting rapid damage assessments and providing specialist planning support to the DFAT relief efforts to assist the thousands of affected residents in and around Honiara.
Australian Defence Force specialists have already provided an engineering design solution that has allowed Honiara’s key Mataniko Bridge to be reopened to heavy vehicle traffic for the first time in five days.
There are now 16 ADF personnel deployed in Solomon Islands. Defence stands ready to provide additional support, as requested, part of a DFAT coordinated response. Defence has a strong relationship with Solomon Islands people following a decade long commitment to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) that concluded in August 2013.
Australian Government relief efforts are having an immediate impact as Solomon Islands work to recover from this natural disaster. Further inquiries about the situation in Solomon Islands should be directed to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.