CANBERRA — The Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) have delivered crucial humanitarian aid to flood-stricken Burma, just days after the Myanmar Government’s request for international assistance.
A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17 Globemaster touched down at Rangoon airport, Burma, to deliver Australian relief supplies of nearly 1000 family kits containing hygiene items, cooking materials, blankets, water containers, torches, basic footwear, mosquito nets, education materials and an FM radio.
The humanitarian relief supplies, which are being coordinated by DFAT, were provided to World Vision and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for distribution to the most heavily affected regions.
Australian Ambassador to Myanmar, Mr Nicholas Coppel, said the joint effort between the Australian Defence Force and DFAT has been instrumental in delivering the aid quickly.
“It’s terrific. We are working together seamlessly. The decision to provide this assistance was only made a couple of days ago and here it is already on the ground, it couldn’t be better and it couldn’t have been possible without the help of the ADF,” Mr Coppel said.
“To see Australia responding so quickly in response to the request from the Myanmar Government is fantastic.”
The cargo was loaded at the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) in Subang, Malaysia and unloaded at Rangoon airport by the ADF Mobile Air Load Team, DFAT officials, local police and World Vision and IOM staff.
Executive Officer of No. 36 Squadron, Squadron Leader Steve Ferguson said the ADF element in Malaysia and Burma has performed admirably at such short notice.
“This type of mission is part of our core business and everyone here is doing a great job. The C-17 is perfect for it,” Squadron Leader Ferguson said.
“In one mission we can deliver an awful lot and really have an impact in a timely fashion.
“It’s a sombre mission so it’s not lost on us, but in some small way to be able to help this country on the way back to its recovery in light of what’s happened really does give you a personal feeling of pride and you’re always very highly motivated for these missions.”
Australia’s prompt response through the Australian aid program will include another strategic lift effort with remaining Australian relief supplies and items for the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA), including four small outboard motor boats, about 2000 blankets, 2000 tarps and hundreds of jerry cans being flown on the next mission.
IOM’s Chief of Mission Kieran Gorman-Best said the stores came at exactly the right time.
“Myanmar has been hit with extremely severe floods. At the moment about 1 million people are displaced and about 100 have died across the country, there’s a lack of food, lack of shelter and it’s of great concern,” Mr Gorman-Best said.
“Today we’ve got one of the first deliveries. We really appreciate it, the biggest need was to get these kits to the people who are in very challenging situation, so we appreciate it – it’s great support.”
The Myanmar Government’s Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Daw Su Su Hlaing said her government is extremely grateful for Australia answering the call for help.
“On behalf of the Myanmar people and on behalf of the Myanmar Government, we are very happy to receive this aid from the Australia government and we are very pleased by their willingness to assist.”