Australia has given $0.7 million to Samoa to help set up a Volunteer Emergency Response Team (VERT) to respond to natural disasters like last year’s tsunami.
On his first official visit to Samoa, Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Richard Marles launched the initiative, which will assist in search and rescue, recovery, sea patrols, water-based medical evacuations and provide first aid support.
The Australian funding will provide specialised equipment, technical training and help with the establishment of the team.
“The creation of a local volunteer emergency response capability for Samoa has stemmed from the lessons learned in responding to last year’s tsunami and the likelihood of future natural disasters, such as cyclones,” Mr Marles said.
“Samoa needs to have a well prepared, well trained and well equipped volunteer response team that can quickly swing into action and support the emergency services when required. It could be the difference between life and death and the new capability will be critical in ensuring more lives are saved than lost.”
Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai, who joined Mr Marles for the launch, thanked Australia for its support of the VERT, as well as its generous and ongoing assistance to Samoa in the aftermath of the tsunami.
Australia provided $12 million to help Samoa following the natural disaster that struck in September 2009.
“Australia’s assistance to Samoa reflects the warmth of our enduring friendship with the Samoan people and our determination to help them rebuild, ” Mr Marles said.
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