Pacific

NZ ups its diplomatic presence in Pacific

The reset aims for a heightened focus on the Pacific and today's announcement will see 14 new diplomatic and development positions created offshore.

Mr Peters said the new posts would be in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, and Honolulu.

In addition four new diplomats will be placed in Tokyo, Beijing, Brussels, and New York, "to co-ordinate development policy and partnerships for the Pacific region".

Threat to Pacific from climate change more severe - US report

The 4th US National Climate Assessment, released at the weekend, is the federally sanctioned work of about 300 academics and experts on the threat posed by climate change.

The assessment devotes a chapter to the US Pacific.

Zena Grecni, is the Project Specialist for the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment based at Honolulu's East-West Center.

She said in the four years since the last report, threats from climate change had increased substantially.

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 

West accused of trying to sow discord over Chinese aid

Yu Lei of the Beijing Foreign Studies University told the Global Times South Pacific nations were "bewitched" by Western countries including Australia and the US, who sought to gain political leverage in the region.

Western countries were trying to sow discord between China and South Pacific nations by inciting them to come up with the idea of writing off loans, the academic said.

Tonga's prime minister 'Akilisi Pohiva has suggested Pacific countries push for China to forgive their debts, although he has since backtracked on the idea.

$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.