French assistance to disaster victims after Cyclone Ian hit Ha’apai islands (Tonga, 11-12 January 2014)
The French Government has launched a humanitarian operation to aid disaster victims of Cyclone Ian in Tonga. It is being carried out under the 1992 FRANZ agreements between France, Australia and New Zealand on the coordination of natural disaster relief in the South Pacific. This humanitarian operation demonstrates the strong friendship that binds France and the Kingdom of Tonga.
In the evening of 11 January2014, the exceptionally powerful Cyclone Ian struck the Ha’apai islands in northern Tonga, which have almost8000 inhabitants. One person was killed and over70% of homes were destroyed.
On 14 January, the Tongan Government appealed for international assistance. France responded via the French Embassy in Suva (Fiji), which is accredited to Tonga, and the Crisis Centre (CDC) in Paris, by establishing an air bridge between the capital, Nuku’alofa, and the Ha’apai islands. With the help of the New Caledonia Armed Forces (FANC), and financial support from the Government and Congress of New Caledonia and CDC, a FANC-owned CASA transport aircraft from Nouméa travelled to the area on 17January2014, carrying equipment provided by the French Red Cross (300water tanks, 200protective sheets and 100accessory and tool kits).
In collaboration with New Zealand, the aircraft also transported 30tons of equipment for emergency relief and reconstruction (tents, shelters, jerrycans of drinking water, etc.). In addition, two medical evacuations to the capital have been organised, allowing more than 50disaster victims to be repatriated.