Pacific

Australia to increase military and police cooperation in Pacific

On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a new foreign policy strategy for the Pacific region, including increased military cooperation.

But Defence Minister Christopher Pyne told Fairfax Media this strategy also includes a new vessel to operate semi-permanently in the south west Pacific.

He said the ship could assist with preparation for and response to natural disasters and other resilience support.

Australia will also strengthen its links with police forces in the Pacific.

Australia lifting Pacific work scheme numbers

The assistant minister for international development and the Pacific, Anne Ruston, said under Australia's pledge to step up its relationship with Pacific nations it recognised that labour mobility was a key issue for them.

This was reflected in the 40 percent annual growth of the seasonal worker scheme, while a new Pacific labour scheme would also bring in 2000 workers over the next year, she said.

Mobile tests for HIV and syphilis rolled out in Pacific

Thirty-thousand kits have been distributed in 11 countries, replacing the need for people to travel long distances to testing facilities.

The UNDP's Anna Chernyshova said the rapid diagnostic kits had also revolutionised the process of testing people in remote areas.

"Especially at the outer islands this procedure was really complicated because they had to send a nurse with all the equipment and she had to collect the blood from the people and then carry it back to the laboratory in the central hospital in one of the other islands," Ms Chernyshova said.

Forecasters predict dry spells for parts of the Pacific

They are New Caledonia, northern Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Tokelau, the northern Cook Islands and the Marquesas.

The forecasters said above normal rainfall for Solomon Islands was also expected.

They also said there was a significant chance of an El Nino weather system developing over the next few months.

El Nino means a warming of the tropical ocean which can lead to more intense storms.

 

 

Photo file UNDP. Caption: Drought in Marshall Islands 

$US2m boost for human rights work in Pacific

One of the aims of the Pacific Commonwealth Equality Project is to support MPs and community leaders champion human rights in their communities.

The project will receive about $US2 million in funding over two years from the UK government's Commonwealth Fund.

Senior human rights advisor for the Pacific Community Jayshree Mangubhai said she was confident the work would help create meaningful social change.

NCDs, climate change, security effects on Pacific private sector discussed

The meeting discussed actions the private sector needs to take in the Pacific region to challenge climate change, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) and other relevant issues. 

The preparatory meeting is held annually ahead of the annual Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting, where Pacific Island leaders consider the recommendations from the preparatory meeting. This year, the Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting will be held in Nauru on September 4.

Strong visitor growth continues in the Pacific region

Fiji continues to be the top destination in the region.

Arrivals to the organisation's member countries provisionally reached over 460,000 in the March quarter of 2018.

The latest quarterly review reports visitors to the Asia and Pacific region were up 8.2 percent from 7.3 percent in the December quarter.

The latest figures outperformed last March's quarter by about 6 percent.

CEO Chris Cocker said Fiji continues to be the top destination with 36.7 percent of visitors followed by French Polynesia at 9.7 percent, Palau on 7.3 and PNG 7.2.

NZ's foreign minister announces next steps in 'Pacific reset' aid strategy

When the coalition government came to power last year, it announced a so-called Pacific reset to New Zealand's foreign policy, and this year's budget saw a surge in funds for the foreign ministry.

In a speech on Friday, Winston Peters announced what he called the next steps in that reset, saying his eyes were wide open to "New Zealand's decreasing influence" in the Pacific.

Mr Peters said New Zealand is looking to redefine its spending by partnering with others in projects which last for 50 years or longer, pointing to support for a Kiribati land reclamation project.

Dengue impact widespread in Pacific in past 18 months

The Team Coordinator, Health Security and Communicable Diseases, Angela Merianos, says outbreaks were reported from American Samoa, Fiji, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu in 2017.

She said Wallis and Futuna has had an outbreak of dengue type 1, with French Polynesia and New Caledonia having both serotypes 1 and 2 of the illness.

Dr Merianos said Niue has had types 2 and 4, with Kiribati recently reporting type 2 dengue fever.

Push to embed climate change prep in Pacific

SPREP'S climate change adaptation advisor said training being held this week in Fiji aimed to improve planning and decision making to boost resilience.

Filomena Nelson said skills such as cost benefit analysis were being taught so that limited resources can be spent wisely and with a long term view in mind.

"Adaptation has to be done as part of development planning as well.