6 Country Military Mission Rebuilds 5 Fiji Schools Damaged By Cyclone Winston

US, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, France, Vanuatu participate in operation Pacific Angel 2017

By Charles Chambers

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, July 25, 2017) –  A joint operation of military personnel from six countries and a Pacific Island group of volunteers have completed the rebuilding of five schools damaged by Tropical Cyclone Winston.

They have also provided extensive medical care to over 4000 people in rural areas.

The operation called Pacific Angel 2017 include military personnel from the United States, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, France and volunteers from Vanuatu spent the past two weeks carrying out their work in Ba, Tavua and Savusavu.

They were also joined by personnel from the Ministry of Health, local non-governmental organisations and civilian authorities.

Their work was praised by US Ambassador Judith Cefkin, Brigadier-General William Burks of the US Military, Commissioner Western Division Manasa Tagicakibau, and Republic of Fiji Military Forces Colonel Onisivoro Covunisaqa at the Tagitagi Sangam School in Tavua yesterday.

PACANGEL 17 is a joint and combined humanitarian assistance exercise that includes general health, dental, optometry, paediatrics, and engineering programmes, as well as subject-matter expert exchanges.

The engineering work at the schools included upgrading plumbing to meet local codes and improve hygiene, adding electrical outlets and fans, repairing roofs, installing gutters, and ensuring safety standards.

According to Ms Cefkin, PACANGEL 2017 was evidence of the strong partnership between the United States and Fiji.

“Pacific Angel is a tangible demonstration of the great things that our countries can accomplish together,” she said.

“Whether our experts are sharing expertise on the latest public health techniques, jointly providing medical care to communities in need, or working side by side to improve health centers and schools, the spirit of US-Fiji cooperation is a force for positive change here and across the Pacific.

“The United States will remain committed to supporting Fiji’s on-going efforts to boost its resilience in the face of natural disasters and the impact of climate change.”

Colonel Covunisaqa while praising the efforts of the mission said it did not only benefit the military personnel but the community at large.

“The collaboration and interoperability has brought about a very profound outcome as the impact of what had taken place over the last few days has been felt across the country in general and this community in particular,” he said.

Colonel Covunisaqa said the work done had the potential to greatly impact society and develop capacity within the ranks in the RFMF.

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

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