As of 18 December 2020

Cyclone Yasa has slammed into Fiji, with initial reports showing extensive destruction across the island nation with tens of thousands of people affected. 

Packing wind gusts of up to 345 kilometres per hour, the Category 5 storm is one of the strongest to ever hit any country in the Pacific. 

Fiji Red Cross Society Director-General Ilisapeci Rokotunidau said: 

“We are very concerned for the safety of thousands of people who have experienced the brunt of this monster storm. Initial reports from volunteers are revealing destruction in Bua, a province on the island of Vanua Levu. The coastal areas of many islands have been impacted by storm surges and flooding at the height of the storm. 

“Our teams report that houses and community buildings have been destroyed and crops flattened. There are widespread power outages in affected areas. 

“Trained Red Cross volunteers who live in these same communities are responding to provide first aid and relief and updating the National Office Emergency Centre on needs.”  

Fiji Red Cross teams were mobilised as the storm formed, supporting evacuation efforts, securing buildings, and ensuring pre-positioned relief supplies were ready for distribution.  

Red Cross volunteers are currently deployed to provide first aid and relief such as tarpaulins for shelter, hygiene kits, safe water, backed by pre-positioned emergency supplies.  

Fiji Red Cross teams are working with the National Disaster Management Office and other agencies to work towards meeting immediate needs as quickly and effectively as possible.   

To support these relief efforts, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released initial early emergency relief funds of 86,000 Swiss Francs ($97,000 USD), to provide urgent assistance including first aid, tarpaulins and shelter materials, safe water, household items and hygiene kits for 17,700 people over the next month. 

Head of the IFRC Pacific Office, Kathryn Clarkson, said: 

"It's devastating to see another big cyclone affect Fiji so soon after Cyclone Harold and so close to Christmas. With communities that are already facing challenges because of COVID-19 this will only add to the hardships. We have a full team of people supporting the Fiji Red Cross Society operations and will be looking to increase our financial support once we get the full picture of the damages.” 

New Zealand Red Cross' support to Fiji Red Cross

New Zealand Red Cross has a close and long-standing relationship with Fiji Red Cross Society and other Pacific National Societies. Should our friends in Fiji or elsewhere request our support following TC Yasa, we are able to send quickly relief items currently stored in our Auckland warehouse such as tarps, kitchen sets, water containers, first aid kits and shelter toolkits, but also financial assistance to support Fiji Red Cross Society’s emergency response, as well as international delegates with specific skills to support in the aftermath of a disaster.

Missing family in Fiji

Kiwis in New Zealand who have lost contacted with their loved ones in Fiji can use Red Cross’ Restoring Family Links (RFL) service. Anyone here in New Zealand who is anxious for news regarding family in Fiji is encouraged to complete the Red Cross Message form on the New Zealand Red Cross website: https://www.redcross.org.nz/request/red-cross-messages/ or email familylinks@redcross.org.nz. The RFL team will be able to send through ‘Anxious for News Messages to the Fiji Red Cross’. This service helps families in New Zealand locate news of missing loved ones overseas where the separation was caused by war, armed conflict, disaster or migration. 

Media enquiries

For more information or interviews contact:

In Suva: Ana Kotoiwasawasa, +679 9987949, ana.kotoiwasawasa@redcross.com.fj 

In Kuala Lumpur: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, antony.balmain@ifrc.org