The United Nations and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have reaffirmed their commitment to assist Fiji and the Pacific region in availing financial, technical assistance, advisory support and information sharing needed towards building back better.

This was conveyed at the virtual roundtable meeting organised yesterday by the United Nations and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), in mapping the way forward for the Pacific countries (Fiji, Tuvalu, Soloman Islands, Vanuatu and Kiribati) on the principles and proposed approach to safe reopening of the points of entry.

Speaking at a the joint press conference following the meeting, UN Resident Coordinator in the Pacific, Mr Sanaka Samarasinha said the UN is committed to providing a wide range of assistance to Small Island Developing States.

“Collaboration has to be the name of the game when we are actually trying to respond to the pandemic. It takes a whole of government approach to respond to this pandemic. It takes a whole of society approach, private sector, civil society, faith based organisations, communities coming together to make sure we can actually prepare ourselves.  Ultimately the whole world has to reconsider how to reopen the borders and how to have the economies reinvigorated but we cannot do it unless we do it safely,” Mr Sanaka said.

He stated that the UN is determined to facilitate the multisectoral support mapping to safely reopen the points of entry in the Pacific.

“Financial assistance is also important and it was key to have this event co-hosted by ADB which provides financing and there were other development partners who provide budgetary support and extra budgetary support to governments through multilateral organisations like ourselves.

“These types of roundtable meeting; is to prepare the countries; to have the minimum standards that are acceptable to other countries within the region and beyond.

“I would think that the building up of the capacities of customs, immigration, airline, tour operators, pre-border, at border and post-border, as its includes the police and law enforcement contacts is vital for governments to be able to have confidence in accepting travelers from other countries,” Mr Sanaka explained.

Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister, Immigration and Sugar Industry and Acting Permanent Secretary Foreign Affairs, Mr Yogesh Karan thanked United Nations and ADB for organising this important regional meeting. He also outlined the assistance provided by the Fijian government to its Pacific Island nations in response to COVID-19.

“Fiji is seen as the hub, as you know that we have already facilitated numerous requests from Pacific Island countries, through bilateral channels by repatriation of their citizens particularly out of India that went for certain medical conditions, so they are back. We have successfully facilitated those.

“We have to be mindful of how this cross border movement is going to take place and ensure that our borders are safe, secure and Fiji is there to help its neighbouring countries and likewise we will ensure that no stones are left unturned when we are considering such cases; we are there to support and likewise we need support and we are grateful for the tremendous support provided by the United Nations,” PS Karan said. 

“Multilateral engagements with UN organisations is important for Fiji. Globally they had done an impact study for Fiji which we had a meeting week before last, and we discussed the responses required and I had mentioned that most of it is reflected in our national budget.  And we stand to be guided by the United Nations and we are appreciative for the support given by all our development partners to assist Fiji build back better,” PS Karan said.

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