AUSTRALIAN aid to the cyclone-affected in Fiji will continue indefinitely as the focus shifts towards the recovery phase of relief efforts.
This is the word from the first secretary Development Co-operation at AusAID, Timothy Gill, who said an announcement by Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr on December 18 of an initial emergency relief package of $1.84million was followed by the immediate arrival of $922,000 worth of emergency supplies on December 19 and 20 via two Australian Defence Force C-17 transporters.
"Our response was immediate. Further support is being implemented right now in affected areas by the National Disaster Management Organisation, the Fiji Red Cross Society and our civil society organisation (CSO) partners.
"This initial assistance package is being rolled out very rapidly in response to the most urgent needs for food, shelter, water, health outreach and psychosocial support, and at the same time everyone is turning their attention to the recovery phase.
"No deadline has been set for the completion of the work at this stage."
Mr Gill said based on the January and March floods last year, CSOs had proven to be effective in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.
"CSOs are able to assess the needs of and get assistance directly to the communities they work with very efficiently.
"Because they work in these communities, they are also well-placed to understand the underlying development needs that make people more vulnerable to disasters, so they can factor those things into their response so that those communities can stand on their own feet in future.
"AusAID and the Fiji Community Development Program team will continue to monitor and evaluate the work done by CSOs in this and previous disasters."