Members of an Australian Medical Task Force received a warm welcome home after returning from an aid mission in Pakistan.
The mission was part of relief efforts following devastating floods in August, which left two thousand dead and affected millions more.
Briony Skinner reports.
Seventy-two engineering, medical, and defence personnel returned to the airforce base in Brisbane after two months based in Kot Addu.
The task force was supporting the town’s local hospital, which has been struggling to cope with the after effects of the floods.
Task force members say even though it was hard work, they were happy to assist as much as possible.
Major Chris Saunders, 2HSB: “I’ve never been anywhere where we’ve treated over 11,000 people in that amount of time. It was exceptionally gratifying, it was exceptionally challenging, it was exceptionally confronting.”
They say the Pakistani people were grateful to have them there.
Andrew Pearson, Squadron Leader: “Our centre spread by word of mouth as they were telling their friends and family. We had a lot of people coming in and saying, `We’ve heard you guys are really good and we’d like you to treat us’ so that was good.”
The team spent much of their time in a secure compound about the size of a football field.
Thanh Le, AusAid Team Leader: “Our safety was afforded to us by those who we were treating and the community who saw the good work that we were doing.”
The Australian government has already contributed over seventy-five million dollars to emergency relief.
Twenty-three ADF members remain in the country to complete mission Pakistan Assist Two. They’ll be home in time for Christmas.
This is not the end of Australian disaster relief in Pakistan. AusAid says the effects of the floods were devastating, and aid will be needed for at least the next decade.
For now though, these families are happy to have their loved ones home.
Briony Skinner, QUT News.