Pacific foreign ministers stress need to work together

National flags in Nauru for the Pacific Islands Forum. Photo: New Zealand Herald/Jason Oxenham

The foreign ministers of the Pacific Islands Forum countries are calling for the member states to work together to overcome Covid-19.

They have issued a joint statement, saying that the pandemic poses unique challenges for the Pacific.

The island geography, the limited medical infrastructure, and communal ways of Pacific life, mean even one case of Covid-19, in any country, represents a major threat.

According to the ministers, Covid-19 also exacerbates existing threats facing the Blue Pacific region, none greater than climate change.

This was highlighted by Tropical Cyclone Harold, which claimed lives and wreaked devastation in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga, in April.

The ministers said the Forum has invoked the Biketawa Declaration, which recognizes that, in times of crisis, all actions must be taken on the basis that Pacific countries are an extended family of island nations.

Tuvalu’s prime minister Enele Sopoaga speaking at the opening of the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Funafuti. August 2019 Photo: Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

During recent Forum Foreign Ministers and Regional Taskforce Meetings, the chair, Tuvalu, highlighted the te fale-pili concept.

This literally refers to houses in close proximity to one another and implies that all households have a moral responsibility to care for and protect their neighbours.

In the Pacific, the ministers said, our values encourage us to look to our shared responsibilities. These include our responsibilities to ourselves but also, and more importantly, to our parents, to our families, to our communities, to our nations, and to our region.

Source: RNZ