The New Zealand Defence Force is taking more than 27 tonnes of emergency school supplies to Tonga today to help authorities set up temporary schools for students displaced by Tropical Cyclone Gita.
21 February 2018
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is taking more than 27 tonnes of emergency school supplies to Tonga today to help authorities set up temporary schools for students displaced by Tropical Cyclone Gita.
The shipment includes 44 tents, 95 tarpaulins, 50 early childhood development kits, 130 school-in-a-box kits, 130 recreation kits, 100 teacher backpacks, 3290 student backpacks and 3292 plastic bottles. The school-in-a-box kits include blackboards, pencils, paper, scissors, exercise books and other school material to allow children to continue their classes.
Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the emergency supplies from UNICEF Pacific would be airlifted from Fiji to the main Tongan island of Tongatapu by a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft.
The NZDF will also fly 4.5 tonnes of aid from New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade from Fiji to Tonga on Thursday, in addition to the 24 tonnes in New Zealand aid that it has delivered to Tonga since the category four cyclone hit the Pacific country on February 12.
“The New Zealand Government supports Tonga’s disaster relief efforts, which put education as one of the priorities,” Major General Gall said.
“We recognise the importance of getting children back to the classroom so they can move on and refocus on their studies, and we are pleased that we can support the Tongan Government and UNICEF in achieving this.”
UNICEF Pacific Representative Sheldon Yett said the emergency school supplies would enable teachers to resume classes as soon as possible and would benefit almost 14,000 students.
“The NZDF’s assistance in airlifting these UNICEF education supplies is key to ensuring the most vulnerable children of Tonga can return to school as soon as possible and regain a sense of normalcy,” Mr Yett said.
A damage assessment of Tongatapu and Eua islands by Tonga’s Ministry of Education and Training found that the cyclone had displaced about 25,000 schoolchildren and damaged either the structure, furniture or education resources of about 130 classrooms in 83 primary and secondary schools, UNICEF said.