Israeli aid for Fiji
Following Cyclone Evan the Embassy of Israel in Canberra has played a vital role in coordinating and sponsoring the provision of aid to the Pacific of urgent medical and emergency supplies.
In its first year of operation the Embassy’s new Pacific Islands Bureau has already expanded Israel’s links with health authorities across the Pacific and the Embassy’s response to the humanitarian situation following the storm has provided much needed supplies.
Ambassador Rotem had only just returned from an official visit to Fiji before Cyclone Evan struck and noted his dismay at the destruction wrought across the Pacific. “I was very concerned by the burden placed on the health systems of so many Pacific nations as a result of the storm and knew immediately that we needed to send supplies above and beyond our regular program as soon as we possibly could.”
The Embassy is in direct contact with Neil P. Sharma, Minister of Health for Fiji, and is in the process of purchasing antibiotics and other medications as well as clothing and shelter. The anticipated contribution from the embassy towards Fijian aid is $10,000 AUS and also includes cooperation with the Australian Red Cross.
The Embassy has coordinated a shipment of needed non-medical supplies following discussions with the Fijian authorities regarding areas of particular need. A consignment of 15 cartons of nappies, 5 cartons of baby wipes, 1 carton of nappy bags, all donated by Magen David Adom and 50 first aid kits donated by Safety Dave have been shipped, with further shipments expected in the current days.
The Embassy has also sponsored additional shipments of aid as part of its regular program with Insulin for Life Australia. Under the leadership of Ambassador Yuval Rotem and Insulin for Life President Ron Raab OAM, the embassy covers all costs for the shipment of donated medical supplies to a number of countries including Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Samoa Tonga and Kiribati.
The additional shipment to Fiji included 5,000 Test Strips, 7 matching blood glucose meters, 2,500 syringes, assorted lancets and lancet pens complemented recent similar non-emergency shipments. Neil P. Sharma, Minister of Health for Fiji expressed his heartfelt thanks for the additional shipment.
Regular shipments have also recently been sent to the Solomon Islands, with Ambassador Rotem noting that Mr Jonathan Zadka, Israel’s Regional Counsellor to the Pacific Islands had recently met the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health & Medical Services, Dr Lester Ross. Dr Ross officially accepted delivery of the shipment on behalf of the Solomon Islands.
Kiribati also received a regular shipment, Dr Bwabwa Oten, acting DHS of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services of the Republic of Kiribati thanked Insulin for Life and the embassy on 17 December for their shipment of medical supplies, including 1,500 syringes, 18,000 lancets plus lancet pens, 6 glucose meters, testing strips, and foot testers. Mr Zadka recently visited Kiribati and noted that the provision of medical supply was a tangible and productive way in which Israel could contribute to improving the quality of life of diabetes sufferers.
Ambassador Rotem said that the creation of the Pacific Islands Bureau and Mr Zadka’s work in the Pacific were indicative of the good relations between Israel and the region. “Our regular programs in the Pacific have done so much to help diabetes patients in the region and I am glad that the emergency shipments will make a real and meaningful difference in the response to the storm”. He also indicated that the formation of a Pacific Islands Bureau demonstrates Israel’s commitment to future cooperation in the region and enhanced the embassy’s ability to rapidly respond to emergencies.