25 Apr 2023

Pacific news in brief for April 24

8:53 am on 25 April 2023
A police landcruiser patrols the streets of the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby.

A police landcruiser patrols the streets of the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

PNG - police and drugs

Papua New Guinea police have reported that six applicants for their recruit programme failed drug tests over the weekend.

In a statement, police said the applicants - four regular recruits and two cadet officer trainees - tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana during their routine medical examinations.

Deputy Police Commissioner Joanne Clarkson said the police executive team is gravely concerned that recruits have tested positive for illicit substances

Clarkson said the police force is no place for substance users.

It is unclear whether any further actions will be taken against the group.

Fiji - crime

A security officer has died in an alleged murder in Suva, Fiji.

Chief of Investigations, Intelligence, and Prosecutions, Sakeo Raikaci, said the incident happened in the early hours of Friday morning.

Raikaci said the man was injured, and two men were trying to assist him when he died.

An investigation is underway.

Fiji - sugar

An academic says extreme measures are required to control consumption of sugary drinks and foods in Fiji.

FBC News reports fresh calls have been made for controlling sugar products after orthopaedic surgeon Dr Eddie McCaig told the 2023 National Economic Summit that 15.8 percent of Fiji's population has diabetes.

A recommendation that has been made for several years is increasing taxes on sugary items.

Overconsumption of sugar, sweets, and drinks can be linked to crippling levels of non-communicable diseases.

Academic Ganesh Chand told FBC News that in order to reduce consumption of such products and help improve the health of Fijians, extreme actions need to be taken.

Vanuatu - nakamal

A ceremony has been held to mark the beginning of the rebuilding of the Chiefs' Nakamal, or traditional meeting house in Vanuatu.

The Port Vila building was destroyed by fire in January.

The Daily Post reports Chief Willie Grey Plasua, President of the Malvatumauri Councils of Chiefs, spoke about the significance of the nakamal to Vanuatu's culture and history.

He said after independence, the chiefs decided to put the symbol of customs of Vanuatu in Port Vila.

A police investigation into the burning of the cultural building is still ongoing.

New Caledonia - nickel

New Caledonia's SLN nickel company has suspended operations at its mine in Poum in the far north of the main island.

The company said it's uncertain about the reliability of the authorisation from the provincial government to run the mine.

The mayor of Poum has written to the government, alarmed at the suspension and fearing the closure of the site, which she said would be catastrophic.

The site has faced a range of environmental problems in recent years, including an overturned ore barge and leaks.

The unions said they want to discuss the situation with SLN's top management.

Fiji - health

Seventeen Pacific health bosses will gather in Fiji this week for the 14th Pacific Heads of Health meeting.

It is the first time in two years the meeting will convene in person.

Topics for discussion include health governance, human resources for health, non-communicable diseases and universal health coverage.

Outcomes and recommendations from the meeting will be progressed to the Pacific Health Ministers meeting.

Crown Princess of Denmark - Pacific tour

The Crown Princess Mary of Denmark is currently visiting Fiji.

Her Royal Highness is being accorded a traditional welcome ceremony at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva this morning to be followed by a courtesy call to Fiji President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere at State House.

Earlier this week Princess Mary was in Vanuatu where she visited the cyclone-devastated island of Pele on Sunday meeting local residents and the country's Minister of Climate Change, Ralph Regenvanu

As part of her Pacific tour the Australian-born consort will also visit her home country.

Princess Mary married Danish Crown Prince Frederik in 2004.