First responder: India quick to help cyclone-hit Fiji

Bolstering its credentials as the first responder in a crisis, India has sent supply relief materials and humanitarian aid to the cyclone-hit Fiji. The first consignment reached Fiji on January 2, 2021, and the next one will arrive by January 6.

Cyclone Yasa is said to be Fiji’s most powerful storm with Category 5 intensity, causing extensive damage and destruction of critical infrastructure. The incident took place on December 17-18, 2020 ,followed by six tonnes of relief supplies by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). The relief material sent by India included shelter and hygiene kits to aid cyclone-affected communities.

Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, India has firmly stood by Fiji in times of crisis and acted as a first responder. India has time and again demonstrated its commitment to provide Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) support to countries abroad.

India’s role as a net security provider is not only reflected in Fiji, but it had also launched search and rescue operations in countries like Nepal and Mozambique in the past. Disaster Risk Reduction and Management is an important pillar of India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI), which was unveiled by PM Modi in November 2019.

In 2016, India had sent aid when Tropical Cyclone Winston struck the country in 2016. “The relief material sent now in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Yasa highlights India’s commitment to provide Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) support to Friendly Foreign Countries as a first responder,” said India’s Ministry of External Affairs in a statement.

The visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Fiji in 2014 provided a fresh impetus to bilateral ties. Development cooperation and cultural ties between India and Fiji have been expanding steadily. Indian-origin population constitutes roughly one-third of the the island country’s population. In Fiji, Hindi is widely spoken. The first-ever Regional Hindi Conference was held at the capital Suva on January 25, 2020.

(Palak Chhabra contributed inputs for this article)


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