Taskforce Kiwi volunteers in front of an Air Vanuatu aircraft following their arrival in the country for Operation Lola. Air Vanuatu has provided vital flight assistance to Taskforce Kiwi for this operation. Photo: Supplied
In addition to a second team of six volunteers joining Disaster Relief Australia to support Queensland’s storm response, Taskforce Kiwi (TFK) has now deployed an additional two teams to assist in the ongoing relief efforts in Morocco and Vanuatu.
Two TFK volunteers have arrived in Morocco to work alongside UK-based ReACT Disaster Relief, who have joined with local partners to support communities impacted by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the Atlas Mountains region of Morocco on the 8th of September 2023. The earthquake killed approximately 2,960 people and injured 5,674, and it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people are still homeless, with many living in makeshift shelters in mid-Winter. The team will be based in the Atlas Mountains region, coordinating the distribution of aid to affected communities as temperatures at night plummet to well below freezing.
A small team of Taskforce Kiwi volunteers in Marrakesh, Morocco to support earthquake relief with international partner ReACT Disaster Relief. Photo: Supplied
A team of four volunteers have arrived on the island of Ambrym in Vanuatu following
Tropical Cyclone Lola, which impacted over 100,000 people across northern and central Vanuatu in late October 2023; with damage occurring to homes, buildings, power, communications, and roads. Working alongside the Vanuatu Ministry for Education and Training (MOET) and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), the team are conducting assessments of approximately 40 education facilities across Ambrym. The assessment work will underpin local decision-making on which facilities can be safely reopened, and which need repairs, enabling children to go back to school as soon as possible. It is expected that two further two rotations of TFK volunteers will deploy over the next two months to carry out assessments on other islands.
“As a relatively new, fully volunteer organisation we’re incredibly proud that we’re able to start 2024 with our skilled volunteers supporting operations in three countries, from the pacific to north Africa”, says Richard Adams, National Director of Taskforce Kiwi. “The partnerships built and strengthened during these deployments will be invaluable as we respond to future events here in New Zealand”.
Taskforce Kiwi volunteer Maureen Duffy poses with New Zealand filmmaker and actor Taika Waititi after running into him on her way to Vanuatu. Photo: Supplied
None of the three current deployments come at any cost to the communities that TFK is assisting. Travel to Morocco was provided by their international logistics partners, Airlink, alongside American Airlines. Travel to Vanuatu was also provided by Airlink, in collaboration with Air Vanuatu, while Airlink have worked with Air New Zealand to get both teams across the Tasman.