Pacific Foreign Ministers convened virtually this week to discuss coordinated response to the global coronavirus pandemic, especially providing assistance to nations despite challenges of border closure and limited flights.
With this the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders have invoked the Biketawa Declaration, “to collectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as a major crisis,’ by establishing the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on COVID-19.
The Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on COVID-19 (PHP-C), under the Biketawa Declaration is a mechanism that will provide the “enabling political environment and commitment to expedite assistance and cooperation between member countries in preparing for and responding to COVID-19.”
The Chair of the Special Foreign Ministers Meeting, the Honourable Simon Kofe of Tuvalu said the crisis is affecting the Pacific region and its time for a united response.
“Obvious that we are facing a crisis at this time, and one that is touching every nation, As leaders, it is important that we come together especially in the time of crisis.” Mr. Kofe said.
Kofe said responses could be through expediting medical assistance, expediting customs clearance of medical supplies, and facilitating diplomatic clearances for chartered flights and commercial shipping.
PIF Secretary-General Dame Meg Taylor told reporters that access is crucial to delivering needed aid to the nations impacted by the threats of COVID-19.
She said the discussion would focus on how the challenges can be overcome to get the help to the Pacific nations.
Taylor said the response though would ensure that nations’ protocols are followed.
Palau State Minister Tina Rechucher- Marugg said that discussions are ongoing to come up with a coordinate response to the challenges such as accessibility and getting medical supplies to the Pacific countries.
Marugg said Palau is in constant dialogue with international partners to assist Palau in putting up defenses in tackling the pandemic and its economic implications.
She said that development partners would be valuable to combat the virus.
She also noted that Palau is also checking up on its stranded citizens in Guam. CNMI and Hawaii.
The Minister said the government is also ensuring that assistance will be included to foreign workers who are impacted by job losses and border closures.