21 Oct 2022

Pacific news in brief for October 21

11:47 am on 21 October 2022

MSF signs agreement with Kiribati; drought in parts of PNG; a study begins on what impact volcanic eruption had on soil in Tonga;, Solomons women learning martial arts from Chinese police, and more

MSF signs agreement with Kiribati; Drought in parts of PNG

The global NGO Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF, has signed an agreement with the Kiribati government to start providing medical humanitarian assistance on the atoll islands.

In a statement, MSF said it will provide medical care focusing on maternal and neonatal health on the main island of Tarawa, as well as other remote islands.

Dr Tinte Itinteang leaves medicine for politics, just over a year after returning from academic posts in Australia and NZ

Dr Tinte Itinteang Photo: supplied

Kiribati has one of the highest rates of newborn deaths in the region and amongst the poorest health outcomes for newborn babies in the world - with 39 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Health minister Dr Tinte Itinteang has labelled the agreement with MSF an incredible milestone.

He said his ministry is looking forward to collaborating with MSF to improve health outcomes for people in Kiribati who face many challenges to their health, including the impacts of climate change.

This is MSF's first-ever project in Kiribati.

The NGOs head of programme, Fabio Forgione, said the health consequences of the climate emergency are very clear and expected to become worse for vulnerable Pacific nations like Kiribati.

Forgione said as climate impacts become worse, it will result in much higher humanitarian needs for the Micronesian nation.

Drought in parts of PNG

Prolonged dry weather in multiple areas of Papua New Guinea is affecting food and water sources for thousands of people.

The Post Courier reports information coming in indicates four months of severe sun and heat have caused food and water sources to dry up.

MP for Daulo Ekime Gorosahu said many people will go without food and water and possibly starve to death if the dry weather continues much longer.

Prime Minister James Marape said his government will look at how best they can help those affected by the prolonged drought in the islands, the Highlands and the northern coast.

Marape has called on district development authorities to consider immediate relief assistance, while the national government will look at how best it can address the issues and come up with relief.

15-year-old dies in Samoa after a concrete staircase collapses and buries him

Samoa Police have confirmed the death of a 15-year-old boy after a concrete staircase of an old house collapsed.

The Samoa Observer reports Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo saying the 15-year-old died in the accident and his 16-year-old brother sustained injuries.

He confirmed earlier reports the teenagers of Asau village went out to collect sand and decided to rest under the concrete steps of an old house in the area.

Commissioner Auapaau said their investigations indicated the steps collapsed on the boys and buried them.

The coroner will call a formal inquest on December 6.

Security operation in PNG's NCD will target criminal activities.

A combined security forces operation will begin soon in Papua New Guinea's National Capital District (NCD), targeting hot spots and criminal activities.

Acting deputy commissioner of police special operations, Donald Yamasombi said all suspects apprehended during this operation will be carefully profiled.

Yamasombi said this should help in the long run to keep tabs on people who commit crimes in the city.

He said a lot of times these are the same people who keep doing the same thing over and over, but no proper tabs were kept on them.

Prime Minister James Marape is dissatisfied with the lawlessness in the district.

NZ govt minister says Niue and NZ relationship in good hands

New Zealand's Minister for Pacific Peoples believes Niue and New Zealand's relationship is in good hands following a meeting with Niue's Premier and the cabinet.

Aupito William Sio is in Niue for Constitution celebrations.

This year marks 48 years since Niue became a self-governing nation in free association with New Zealand.

He said relationship growth is always needed.

In an area in the Pacific where there is a lot of interest from other external partners - having met with the premier, having met his cabinet I got a good sense that our relationship is in good hands but we've always needed to make sure that we grow that relationship and build upon it.

Aupito said his visit is to underline the 'New Zealand - Niue Statement of Partnership' that outlines how the countries are to work together.

Meanwhile during the celebrations the Premier, Dalton Tagelagi, has met with the US Ambassador, Thomas Udall, on his first visit to Niue since his appointment.

During the bilateral meeting both men discussed the recent announcement by President Biden to recognise Niue as a sovereign nation, as well as economic development, security, climate change and Covid-19 issues.

"Our visit here this week is the just the beginning of the consultation process. I've worked in government a long time, and I know something this significant will take time and work, but we're committed and working together to make it happen," said Ambassador Udall.

A study begins on what impact volcanic eruption had on soil in Tonga

The first set of soil samples from a Tongan volcano study has passed customs and is now in Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

A group of soil scientists have embarked on a quest to determine the impact of the volcanic ash fall and tsunami caused by the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai volcanic eruption.

The rest of the samples is expected to come from other islands.

The results from the analysis is not expected to come until at least next year.

The analysis will tell Tongan authorities what can be grown on the islands surrounding the eruption.

Solomons women learning martial arts from Chinese police

Women in Solomon Islands have been learning martial arts to protect themselves.

The China Police Liaison Team has been conducting the martial art training for local women and children after its training with the police force finishes for the day.

Supervising Police Commander of Isabel Province, Rodney Hirovaka, said there have been cases of rape and robbery in Isabel province, and this training teaches young women and children how to protect themselves.

The Chinese instructor Wanghu said this martial arts defense training is mainly designed for women and children to improve their safety awareness and defense capabilities.

The content involves risk identification, defense to attack, and counterattack training.