The safe reopening of borders across the Pacific region will depend on many factors.

Yesterday key stakeholders in Fiji and in the region met to discuss what is the best way to safely re-open our borders.

The United Nations and the Asian Development Bank convened a roundtable meeting with the Governments of Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu to discuss multi-sectoral considerations for safely reopening borders.

A number of the United Nation entities were also present.

“We needed to get everybody here to understand. There are different levels of thinking that’s out in the Pacific in terms of capacity, in terms of resistance and the ability to take on the affected cases. Numerous questions have been asked, particularly Fiji is seen as a hub, As you know we have already facilitated numerous requests from the Pacific countries through the bilateral channels for the repatriation of their citizens particularly out of India who went for certain medical conditions so we successfully facilitated those. Today, we also had numerous questions asked to the UN rep – how will this be assisted and to the WHO,” said Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office Yogesh Karan.

Fiji plays an important role for us here in the Pacific.

A lot depends on how we will work with our regional neighbours in keeping the Pacific safe.

“We have to be mindful of this, how this cross-border movement is going to take place. We have to ensure that our borders are safe, secure and Fiji is there to help these member countries, our neighbours but likewise we want to ensure no stone is left unturned, when we are considering such cases and requests to us. We are there to help out but likewise we require support and we have been getting tremendous support from the United Nations,” Karan said.

There is a clear indication on how the tourism market will work.

It has to be a two way approach….

“I think the most important thing is that all of our countries have a minimum standard of safety. At the end of the day countries will let people if they feel that those who are coming from source countries has also safety standards, the receiving country accepts, at the end of the day, if that doesn’t happen there isn’t going to be movement between two countries. So one of the things we are trying to do through this conversation is as multilateral organizations, the UN, the ADB, the World Health Organisation to say, or the International Civil Aviation Authority Organisation, to say that if you’re an airline, you can’t just abide by standards of one country, because the flight is going to another country too so you have to have an agreement between two countries to have protocols and standards in place that are acceptable to both countries,” said the UN Resident Coordinator for ten Pacific Island countries Sanaka Samarasinha.

Many more meetings to discuss the re-opening of borders in the Pacific is expected in the future.

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