The Vanuatu Government has declared a state of emergency in Shefa province as it seeks to recover from the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam.
An appeal for global support was made by Vanuatu President, but Seruiratu says out of respect for the neighboring island nation's sovereignty, the Fijian Government will take its cue from specific requests from the Vanuatu Government.
To this end, upon the directives of Bainimarama, planning by government has started on the possible requests that may come in from the Vanuatu Government.
“Today, what we have done is we have started planning, taking into consideration possible areas of intervention and needs based on what we have seen and heard, but much will depend on requests from the Vanuatu Govt,” Seruiratu said.
“We know that Vanuatu is a sovereign government and we respect that and of course through the relevant authority we will await further instruction.”
Seruiratu says the main priority is to ensure the safety of those affected as well as Fijian citizens who were in Vanuatu when TC Pam struck and assistance that can be given that will not only address immediate recovery but also long-term reconstruction.
The Fijian government is still to establish the number of Fijians in Vanuatu and their safety at this time.
Seruiratu says his ministry will be liasing with the relevant stakeholders in this regard.
“The information we have right now is sketchy. We will work with the relevant authorities - the Foreign Affairs, University of the South Pacific, the Public Service Commission and Immigration Department.
“Once we have this information we will be in a position to co-ordinate better.”
Seruiratu says government will also deploy man power if needed. And if requested, it will not be limited to military personnel only, but everyone else involved in humanitarian assistance.
Meanwhile, Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has assured the people of Vanuatu of the country's full support as he expressed sympathy at the devastation caused to the island nation by Tropical Cyclone Pam.
In a statement to his Vanuatu counterpart Joe Natuman, Bainimarama said the country stands by to offer support in the rebuilding phase in the aftermath of TC Pam.
“The thoughts and prayers of us all are with the people of Vanuatu at this time of great crisis,” he said in a statement.
“Please be assured of the full support of Fiji as you deal with the Cyclone's aftermath and the challenge of rebuilding your wonderful country,” said Bainimarama.
- Fiji Live