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Natural Disasters Top Agenda at Pacific Foreign Ministers Meeting

Natural Disasters Top Agenda at Pacific Foreign Ministers Meeting

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Pacific nation foreign ministers have agreed to work more closely in response to disasters in the region. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop met with her Pacific colleagues in Sydney on Friday, ahead of the Pacific Island Forum leaders’ summit to be held in Port Moresby in September.

Staffers from the International Organization for Migration assess damage left by Cyclone Pam in Emae Island in Vanuatu. Representatives gathered for the Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting will be seeking to strengthen national leadership though supportive regional responses to natural hazards. (Photo by: Joe Lowry / IOM / CC BY-NC-ND)

Staffers from the International Organization for Migration assess damage left by Cyclone Pam in Emae Island in Vanuatu. Representatives gathered for the Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting will be seeking to strengthen national leadership though supportive regional responses to natural hazards. (Photo by: Joe Lowry / IOM / CC BY-NC-ND)

A report from the meeting called for emergency supplies to be pre-positioned around the region, new spending on early warning systems and greater cooperation involving police and military.

The Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting will gathered representatives from Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Associate members French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Tokelau were also present. Micronesia, a member of the Pacific Island Forum, was the only country absent due to the inauguration of its president.

The foreign ministers came together to strengthen national leadership through supportive regional responses to natural hazards. Experiences and lessons learned from Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu and Typhoon Maysak in the Philippines played a valuable part in discussions, and the meeting discussed plans to establish opportunities for initiatives that will build resilience and mitigate effects of disasters in the region.

The Sydney meeting follows the World Humanitarian Summit held recently in Auckland, New Zealand, which called for stronger partnerships with vulnerable and crisis-affected communities in the Pacific.

“For this region, the stakes could not be higher, with Pacific island nations making up four of the top 10 countries on the 2014 World Risk Index,” said Stephen O’Brien, the U.N. undersecretary-general of humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, following the meeting.

“The strong message from people in the Pacific has been that affected and vulnerable communities, especially women, girls, the elderly and people with disabilities, need to be at the center of humanitarian action,” the U.N. official said. “We need to continue to build strong, trusting partnerships between responders and those impacted by emergencies so that communities get the right help, from the right people, at the right time.”

In September, the member countries will meet with their 17 Post-Forum Dialogue partners — Canada, Cuba, China, the European Union, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America — in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, to discuss mutual strategic interests and opportunities for collaboration.

(Story courtesy of Devex.)

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