Tonga

Pacific Heads of Customs administrations pledge to work together

At the conclusion of the OCO Heads Annual Conference on October 20, themed “Working together to build a safer Blue Pacific”, leaders of Customs administrations in the region stated the loss in revenue collection for their governments due to the closure of borders as their biggest cost of COVID-19.

However, in addition to generating revenue for their governments, Customs administrations are increasingly being presented with other challenges such as the rise of illicit drugs, contraband goods and having to crew quarantine centers.

UAE sends medical aid to Pacific Island countries in fight against COVID-19

The countries include Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Cook Islands, and Niue.

Commenting on the delivery, Abdulla Al Subousi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the UAE to Australia, said, "Today’s aid shipment to Pacific island countries reflects the UAE’s continued efforts to support and stand by these countries to contain the spread of COVID-19 by providing critical medical supplies and protection to strengthen the efforts of healthcare personnel."

Modern slavery rife in NZ and Pacific Islands, charity claims

The Walk Free report identifies cases of forced labour, commercial sexual exploitation of children, and forced marriage in the Pacific.

The report, Murky waters: A qualitative assessment of modern slavery in the Pacific region, said exploitation was fuelled by widespread poverty, migration, and the abuse of cultural practices.

Fiji sets up “Pacific Pathways” allowing travelers from Tonga, Tuvalu and Kiribati

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said upon arrival the travelers must spend 14 days in Fijian government quarantine facilities and then pass a COVID-19 test to enter society, both at their own cost or the cost of their respective government.

“As our risk assessments evolve, we may expand this arrangement to Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, “Mr Bainimarama said in a briefing in Suva today (Sunday).

Pacific warned of seabed mining's irreversible impacts

The report, 'Predicting the impacts of mining of deep sea polymetallic nodules in the Pacific Ocean', is a fusion of more than 250 peer-reviewed scientific and other articles.

Compiled in conjunction with the Deep Sea Mining Campaign, it said there was a lack of certainty around the proposed methods of companies seeking exploration licenses in the Pacific.

But the campaign's coordinator, Helen Rosenbaum, said researchers found the risk of serious environmental damage was high.

In-country COVID-19 testing for 17 Pacific Island countries expected soon

According to the Director of the Public Health Division of the Pacific Community (SPC) Paula Vivili, only five countries currently are able to offer in-country testing.

These countries are Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea

American Samoa won't host Polynesian Leaders Group

American Samoa was to host the inter-governmental meeting involving eight Polynesian members in April.

Originally the territory was to host the event in July 2019 but Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga asked Tuvalu, which hosted the Pacific Forum meeting, to host the PLG alongside the forum.

Lolo had said the territory would step up and host the meeting in January 2020 instead.

However, because of the Samoan measles epidemic, the governor then postponed the meeting until April.

Israel-Pacific Leaders Summit becomes an established Forum

“These Summit’s will be open to all Pacific Island Countries as it will further strengthen the cooperation with the State of Israel in disaster preparedness through the exchange of knowledge, experience, state of art technology, and courses offered in Israel by Israeli experts. This will also enable Israel as per President Rueven Rivlin’s, affirmation that we will continue and strengthen support for humanitarian assistance in cases of emergency and during disasters,” Israel’s Ambassador to the Pacific Islands, Ambassador Tibor Schlosser said.

Tonga, PNG included in new Sevens Challenger Series

The men's and women's series kick-off in February with the aim of developing the next generation of rugby players and growing the popularity and participation of sevens around the world.

World Rugby chair Sir Bill Beaumont said: "We are thrilled to launch the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series in a pivotal year for rugby sevens ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games".

Australia welcomes Pacific security leaders

The conference, hosted by the Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell AO DSC, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece P Kershaw APM, and Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram APM, facilitated strategic-level dialogue and demonstrated capabilities relevant to security agencies across the region.

The themes for the event focused on transnational, organised and serious crime; border security, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.