Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 970


1) Solomon Islands selects women only group to attend festival


Solomon Islands first ever national women’s theatre troupe has been selected to attend this year’s Melanesian Festival of the Arts in Port Moresby.

The all-women States of Change group is a British Council managed project which uses theatre to convey an anti-violence message.

The country director of the British Council in New Zealand, Ingrid Leary, says the group has been invited by the Solomon Islands’ Government to perform at the festival in June.

“It’s a real sign of the government’s support for the project and it also means that the women will have the opportunity to help develop an international profile for the Solomon Islands through theatre and also through women’s involvement in theatre.”

Country director of the British Council New Zealand, Ingrid Leary.Radio NZ

2a) Vanuatu daily news digest | 28 April 2014

by bobmakin

  • Parliament resumes this morning. Bills were listed in Radio Vanuatu News. They mentioned the supplementary budgetary provisions which I over-looked in my last report of the April Parliament beginning today. There are 12 amendment bills and 4 international treaty ratifications. The Right to Information Bill is of particular interest to the media. And the Capital Investment Immigration Plan (CIIP) and Consular Programme. Such a scheme was an objective of the Big Bay Free Trade Zone fifteen years ago. It failed when the Ombudsman, following complaints of corruption, brought about the demise of the project, and yet it is being broached again by the same and new protagonists: Government side Serge Vohor and Willie Jimmy and private sector Stefan Mandel, and it now comes with the added support of the tax haven’s governing body, the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (VFSC). Opposition MP Kalvau Moli today refers to the dual citizenship policy, largely responsible for CIIP, as a failureon page 1 of Daily Post. This follows the Chinese Embassy’s announcement of its requirement, like Vanuatu’s until a few weeks ago, of renunciation of existing nationality if Chinese people take up other citizenship.
  • The tenth Vaturisu Council of Chiefs conference is taking place this week at Pango.Promoting custom governance is a main theme on the 20 point agenda of the conference, and there are sensitive matters like chiefly ordination for discussion.
  • Geodynamics Limited, the Australian geothermal company testing the viability of the Takara energy source, held the first in a new series of discussions with the community and landholders last Saturday. There will be another meeting soon in Port Vila for environmental questions to be raised. This will have the presence of soil, air quality, marine life and biology experts. Social impact questions may also be raised.
  • Under the Education Support Plan running to 2018, the issue of untrained teachers is being considered. Also – aid donors are assisting with VT 2 million to start the USP graduate diploma programme for senior secondary teachers which will start next year in June. This is in line with Bills before Parliament.

Career orientation day is being held in secondary schools today and tomorrow. Teachers and students from all secondary schools are cooperating.

2b) Vanuatu daily news digest | 26 April 2014

by bobmakin

  • The Vanuatu Opposition sees the issuance of visas by the Vanuatu Embassy in Beijing to Chinese nationals to enable them to take money out of China as a “gross diplomatic misdemeanour.” Such money, they say, is used to enable these Chinese nationals to enter into Macau … and the single entry visas are being used to launder money and smuggle people out of China. The Opposition calls on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to correct the “diplomatic misdemeanour and “bring the officials of the Vanuatu Embassy back into line and ensure they accord the appropriate respect to China who has been a very good friend of Vanuatu since Independence.” The Opposition reiterates its support for the One China Police, not heeded by an earlier “moderées” government of a present minister which brought it down. The statement of the Opposition respects China’s non-acceptance of dual citizenship, like Vanuatu’s similar strongly held restriction until about a month ago. However, it sees the dual citizenship as offered by the Capital Investment Immigration Plan (CIIP) and the Vanuatu Financial Service Commission (VFSC), a source of easy money for the state, as an abuse of Vanuatu’s diplomatic mission in Beijing.
  • Radio Vanuatu News this morning said nothing about the Opposition criticism of Government’s “gross diplomatic misdemeanour.” The national radio was only concerned with government good news stories. Commitment to Chiko chicken was top of the list (a question not asked – will they get VNPF assistance?). Then came the VNPF planning to offer members health service and insurance, education assistance and affordable housing solutions. It sounded like the elections all over again.
  • Daily Post today points out that victims of Cyclone Lusi in South Santo have received no assistance from the government yet. They are still advised to use up left-over crops damaged by Lusi. It seems the only assistance they have received is the visit from the Prime Minister after the passage of the cyclone. Maewo roads are still blocked by boulders which toppled down cliffsides on to the main road with the heavy rains of Lusi. Daily Post could not get confirmation from the Prime Minister’s Office if the Council of Ministers had approved funds for emergency relief supplies.

2c) Vanuatu daily news digest | 25 April 2014

by bobmakin

  • Particularly interesting today in Daily Post are two items to cut out and keep for further reference and for discussion. The first is the survey on national household income and expenditure. It is focused on what is called the Hardship and Poverty Report.Monetary values quoted in the report include values for subsistence production consumed by households and enable accurate comparison between Port Vila, Luganville and rural households. A basic needs poverty line (BNPL) is created and provides a detailed analysis of poverty in Vanuatu. Household average total weekly expenditure is given as VT 23,711 for Port Vila, VT 17,927 for Luganville and VT 15,986 for rural areas. Household food production increased significantly between the 2006 and 2010 surveys, from 52% to 58% of total food consumption, but was significantly higher in the rural rather than urban areas. VNSO Head Simil Johnson and his team have produced an extremely valuable report which also highlights the greater rural needs as defined by the rural people themselves.
  • The other important Daily Post news item is a listing of some 30 Bills and Amendment Bills and convention ratifications to be debated by Parliament starting next week. It would take up most of this blog, so I urge readers to buy Daily Post to obtain their complete listing. However, the most important Bill for the media will be the Bill for the Right to Information. There are also the amendments to the recently gazetted Reform and Customary Lands acts. An interesting discussion is likely on the Capital Investment Immigration Plan and Consular Programme (CIIP).
  • In sharp contrast to this is news that the Chinese Embassy has informed the Citizenship Commission through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that China does not recognize dual citizenship. The Embassy is asking the Citizenship Office to inform them of all Chinese who have been granted Vanuatu citizenship. The Embassy says its stand has been made clear, although Vanuatu people would seem not to have been advised of this news by the Vanuatu Government. The CIIP, to be debated by Parliament, is understood to concentrate, therefore, on Chinese seeking to swap their Chinese nationality for Vanuatu’s. Vanuatu governments, with their Hong Kong immigration services, seem to be adopting a policy of ‘evriwan i welkam.’
  • No media today mention the anger of over 100 Fishermen of the Fishermen’s Association when their court case against Government, for failure to pay them their dues, yesterday was delayed until mid-May. The State Law Office still needed time to complete its defence submission and the case had to be postponed for three weeks.
  • Government is working on a new traffic law, VBTC News advised this morning. A technical committee is focusing on the development which will consider vehicle registration, driving licences, road rules, cyclists and road crossings and enforcement. Road safety in high risk areas (like schools) is considered of special importance and increasing the traffic flow.
  • The Freswota Community is starting an Indigenous Council of Chiefs after discussions already taken place and elections on Sunday afternoon, VBTC reports. It is understood by this writer that one of the main aims of the body will be to try to retain the original character of the area as declared in Condominium times.


3) No Budget Highlights Problems With Tonga Boundaries Commission
With election later this year, constituencies likely to remain unchanged

By Pesi Fonua

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, April 25, 2014) – The House has never approved an Annual Report of the Royal Constituency Boundaries Commission since Tonga’s more-democratically-elected-Parliament (MDEP) was sworn-in three years ago.

Clearly, a majority of the incumbent members of parliament do not want the Commission to make changes to the boundaries that define the constituencies that elected the MDEP into office.

The House has been rejecting all of the Annual Reports of the Commission because MPs considered the reports to be incomplete because there were “no financial reports”.

But it was pointed out that, in fact, the Commission did not need to have a financial report of its own, because it was financed under the Treasury.

The Minister of Finance, Hon. ‘Aisake Eke told the House that while he was a People’s Representative, he discovered that the reason why the Commission did not incorporate a financial report in their Annual Report was because, “they did not have any money or a bank book,” and their operation was financed by the Treasury.

The Auditor General also reported that the Boundaries Commission did not have an account to be audited.


The discovery of how this independent Royal Constituency Boundaries Commission was operating without its own bank account was a big surprise to some members.

Dr Sitiveni Halapua, PR for Constituency No. 3, expressed his dismay over the fact that a Commission that was perceived to be independent so that it could operate without any interference from politicians and bureaucrats, relied on the Treasury to finance their operation.

“Now I know why their annual report was incomplete: no budget,” he said.

Six months deadline

The combined 2010-2014 Annual Report that came before the House in March, appeared to be a desperate attempt by the Commission to have an annual report passed before the November election. By law the Commission has to confirm all constituency boundaries six months before a General Election.

Attempted adjustments

The report also included an adjustment to the boundaries of Constituencies No. 15 and 16, moving the village of ‘Utui from Constituency No. 15 to Constituency No. 16.

But ‘Utui doesn’t want to be moved.

Accompanying the Annual Report was a Petition from the people of ‘Utui, against the decision to move their village from Constituency 15 to 16.

The issue of readjusting boundaries, in order to stabilize the number of voters per constituency sparked off some lively discussions, and propositions by members to increase the number of constituencies, particularly in Tongatapu and Vava’u, where there is noticeably an increase in population.

There was a proposition to increase the number of constituencies from 10 to 11 in Tongatapu, and in Vava’u from three to four.

With regards to the Petition, the Screening Committee of the House recommended for the petition to be passed on to Cabinet for their deliberation.

The Minister of Justice, Hon. Clive Edwards objected, saying that the House was infringing on the independence of the Commission by telling the Commission what to do. He said that the House could take note of what the Commission stated in its report but they could not tell the Commission what to do.

Tonga Constitution

Lord Nuku believed that realigning constituency boundaries was more complicated because they would have to amend the Constitution.

The Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano suggested that they should just leave the boundaries as they were. He reminded the House that the political reform that has been introduced was the first after about 130 years, and it had been in place for nearly four years.

He said that even though there appeared to be a marked increase in population in some constituencies, but registered voters, however, remained at around 3000 per constituency.

Sione Taione, who presented the petition from the people of ‘Utui, supported the Prime Minister.

The Chairman of the Whole House Committee, Sunia Fili called for votes of the three issues that the committee had been discussing, the 2010-2014 Annual Report of the Royal Constituency Boundaries Commission, the decision of the Screening Committee on the petition by the people of ‘Utui village, and the boundaries of the 17 constituencies to remain unchanged.

It was carried 9-6. (In fact it was actually 8-6 but, unfortunately, the clerk counted the Minister of Justice, Hon. Clive Edwards twice).

In Legislature, there was no call for voting on what had been passed by the Whole House Committee, and so the decision of the committee was final.

Since the House rejected the Annual Report of the Commission and also rejected the new boundary that it had set for Constituencies 15 and 16, the question now remains: what is the Commission going to do?

Six months deadline

Rosamond Bing, the secretary for the Royal Constituency Boundaries Commission said they would submit a report in mid-May. She said that by law they have to confirm all constituency boundaries six months before a General Election.

Tonga is supposed to have its election in November, though no date has been officially announced.

The other twist in this whole issue is that Cabinet will not be able to present the Commission’s mid-May report to parliament until June when parliament opens for its 2014-15 session, so there will be no contribution from the MDEP to the final decision of the Commission, unless the Commission and Cabinet change the election from November to a later date.

Matangi Tonga Magazine

4) New Samoan Minister will oversee the new Ministry of Public Enterprises, PM Tuilepa now Finance Minister

By Online Editor
09:31 am GMT+12, 28/04/2014, Samoa

A career auditor and accountant has been appointed to oversee a new Ministry that will be created by law and he replaces the Samoan  Minister of Finance who resigned last week.

Lautafi Tio Selafi Purcell, MP for Satupa’itea, was announced by the Prime Minister and sworn in by the Head of State in a brief ceremony last Friday.

Lautafi will be the Minister in charge of a new Ministry called the Public Enterprises Ministry which will monitor all the state owned enterprises that will be required by law to improve their profitability so they can fund various national development projects.

In announcing the new Ministry, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said that the SOE’s are currently under the Ministry of Finance and there is no legal basis for them to have their profits and assets be siphoned off to fund the national development projects.

He said the creation of the new Ministry is long overdue.

The new minister will also be in charge the Public Service Commission, Statistics, the Samoa Land Corporation, Samoa Sports Facilities Authority and Housing Corporation – ministries previously held by the Prime Minister.

This leaves only Finance which will be under the Prime Minister.

“This leaves me with more time available,” said Tuilaepa whose health was of some concern when he was hospitalized for one week in Apia and later flown to New Zealand for further observation.

“But it’s nothing new as I was there from 1982 to 2001,” he said. Then joked, “as long as you know how to add and subtract, there is really nothing hard in there.”

In announcing the appointment, the Prime Minister said that it was only fair that the appointee be from Savaii island as the minister who resigned is from Savaii. In the current Cabinet, three ministers are from Savaii and nine – including the Prime Minister are from Upolu Island.

The new Minister was an associate Minister of Agriculture and chaired the Inquiry into the Ministry of Customs that has yet to complete and table its report in Parliament.

Lautafi came into parliament through a by election when the elected MP lost an election petition court case in 2011.



5) Kiribati says land problem is unprecedented

By Online Editor
12:33 pm GMT+12, 28/04/2014, Kiribati

The President of Kiribati says the country has never faced the problem of land security like it is presently.

Anote Tong hosted the New Zealand foreign minister Murray McCully, as well as representatives from the European Union, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the International Renewable Energy Agency last week, who all had the chance to see the dilapidated state of roads and housing, due to rising sea levels.

An official from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community says in some places on Tarawa Atoll, the density can be compared with Hong Kong, but there is scarce food and water supply.

Anote Tong says he is grateful for the support of donors, but the country is still finding its way in dealing with climate change problems.

“The freshwater lens underground has been affected, food crops have been affected, so people are screaming. And so for the first time this challenge is coming. We’ve never had to face this previously. And so we are trying to find our way to addressing this.”

Meanwhile, the European Union has sent delegates to the remote Kiribati atoll of Kiritimati Island to check on progress with its water programme.

Compared to the distant capital of Tarawa atoll, Kiritimati has far less rainfall and its almost 6000 population often faces long droughts.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community is driving the programme, and the coordinator, George Beck, says as the island has been earmarked for a growth centre, something must be done to secure the water lens and look at alternative ways to conserve.

“At the moment the reticulated water supply, the current piping infrastructure, is dilapidated and not maintained over the last ten years. So what we intend to do through this project is to rehabilitate the water supply as well as build new pumping and solar pumps at the main water lens in order to supply more water to the households.”

Beck says the rebuilding will start in June, and a new piping system should be in place next year.


6) Soalablai sworn in as Palau’s new Education minister

By Online Editor
09:29 am GMT+12, 28/04/2014, Palau

A new Education Minister was appointed in Palau last week.

On Thursday, during the Palau president’s second State of the Republic Address, new Minister of Education Sinton Soalablai was officially sworn in.

Soalablai fills in the remaining vacancy in President Tommy Remengesau’s cabinet. It took just about a week from the time Remengesau appointed Soalablai to the minister of Education position before the Senate confirmed his appointment in a 12 to 1 vote during its April 2 session.

The nomination of the president’s earlier appointee, current Koror Elementary School principal and his 2012 campaign chairman Andrew Tabelual, was not confirmed by the Senate.

The president did not submit a new appointee until he nominated Soalablai over a week ago.

With Soalablai joining his cabinet, Remengesau said there will be a renewed focus on student achievement.



7a)  PNG Oposisan itok gavman imas putim ol sekiuriti beis long Indonesia boda

Updated 28 April 2014, 17:08 AEST
Caroline Tiriman

Papua New Guinea imas putim planti nevi ofisa, polis na ol militari bareks long ol bodamak blong kantri wantem Indonesia.

Odio: PNG Deputi oposisan lida Sam Basil itok gavman imas putim ol sekiuriti beis long boda

Papua New Guinea imas putim planti nevi ofisa, polis na ol militari bareks long ol bodamak blong kantri wantem Indonesia.

Despla toktok ibin kam long Deputy lida blong oposisan Mr Sam Basil bihaenim ol wari emi wok long go hed nau long bodamak klostu long Vanimo long West Sepik provins.

Long ol despla wik igo pinis ol Freedom faita blong West Papua iwok long kamapim trabal egensim ol gavman ofisa na ol gavman ofis blong  Indonesia long West Papua.

Despla laen iwok long fait long bruk lusim Indonesia long planti yia nao stat iet long ol yia 1960’s.

Ol ripot ikam long PNG itok olsem ol despla laen freedom faita ibin statim despla nupla fait egensim Indonesia gavman long wankaen taem we ol pipal blong Indonesia ibin statim ileksan blong makim ol nupla memba blong Palaman.

Oli bin tok olsem as tingting blong ol despla fait blong ol em blong soim ol lida blong ol narapla kantri olsem oli laikim indipendans.

Sampla West Papua laen long PNG ibin tokaut tu olsem bai oli no nap stopim despla fait blong ol.

Olsem na Mr Basil itok, PNG gavman imas putim planti sekiuriti ofisa blong Nevi, difens na polis long bodamak wantem Indonesia.


7b) Manus: « protéger les migrants n’est pas toujours possible »

Mis à jour 28 April 2014, 14:01 AEST
Caroline Lafargue

C’était une « garantie », ce n’est plus qu’une « aspiration. » Scott Morrison ne peut plus assurer à 100% la sécurité des demandeurs d’asile à Manus, en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée.

Le centre de rétention de Manus, au nord de la PNG. Scott Morrison: « C’est mon aspiration, mon engagement, que d’assurer la sécurité dans ce centre, mais ce n’est pas toujours possible. »
Le 17 février, le centre a été attaqué par des assaillants encore non identifiés. Il y a eu un mort et plus de 60 blessés, principalement des demandeurs d’asile. Au lendemain des violences, Scott Morrison, le ministre australien de l’Immigration, a déclaré :

« Je peux garantir leur sécurité s’ils restent dans le centre et coopèrent avec le personnel, qui est là pour les aider. »

Mais ce matin, le ton a changé. Scott Morrison :

« C’est mon aspiration, mon engagement, que d’assurer la sécurité dans ce centre, mais ce n’est pas toujours possible. »

Parallèlement, les résultats de l’enquête sur la mort du demandeur d’asile iranien Reza Barati, et l’attaque du centre en février n’ont toujours pas été rendus publics. Plusieurs témoins oculaires accusent la police papoue et les gardiens de G4S, chargés de la sécurité du centre, d’avoir agressé et tabassé des demandeurs d’asile. Et même, d’avoir tué Reza Berati. L’ABC  a diffusé l’un de ces témoignages anonymes dimanche soir:

« J’ai vu arriver la police papoue. Ils ont tiré des coups de feu quand ils sont entrés dans le centre. Et ils étaient suivis d’habitants de Manus. Quelques attaquants portaient l’uniforme de G4S, d’autres l’uniforme de l’Armée du Salut, d’autres encore, l’uniforme de la société de nettoyage Spick & Span. Ils sont entrés aux côtés de la police. »

L’attaque du centre le 17 février est intervenue le lendemain d’une manifestation des demandeurs d’asile dans le centre. Une manifestation musclée, car ils venaient d’apprendre qu’ils devraient refaire leur vie en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, et ne poseraient jamais un orteil en Australie.

8) Brèves d’Australie et du Pacifique – lundi 28 avril 2014

Mis à jour 28 April 2014, 10:38 AEST
Caroline Lafargue

Ils ont quasiment le même nom, ils sont tous les deux basés à Fidji. Franck Bainimarama a inauguré samedi à Suva le siège du Forum du Développement des Îles du Pacifique, concurrent du Forum des Îles du Pacifique.

Sommet inaugural du Forum du Développement des Îles du Pacifique à Nadi, en août 2013. 14 pays ont répondu à l’invitation, dont la PNG et le Timor Leste. L’organisation a désormais son siège à Suva, la capitale fijdienne.
Fidji est suspendu depuis cinq ans du Forum des Îles du Pacifique, suite au coup d’Etat de Franck Bainimarama. Le leader fidjien juge ce Forum historique trop éloigné des valeurs et des intérets des insulaires. Franck Bainimarama a indiqué samedi qu’il n’envisageait pas de réintégrer l’organisation. L’année dernière le leader fidjien avait même déclaré qu’il ne rejoindrait le Forum que si l’Australie et la Nouvelle-Zélande quittaient l’organisation. Le prochain sommet du Forum du Développement des Îles du Pacifique aura lieu en juin à Nadi, un mois avant celui du Forum historique, organisé, lui, à Palau.

Tonga, secouée par un puissant séisme de 6.3 sur l’échelle de Richter samedi soir. Les radios locales ont immédiatement incité les Tongiens à se réfugier à l’intérieur des terres. Pourtant il n’y a pas eu d’alerte au tsunami. L’épicentre était dans l’océan, à 10 km de profondeur, mais les Tongiens ont ressenti les secousses. Tonga est située dans la zone où la plaque australienne rencontre la plaque du Pacifique, précise le sismologue Marco Maldoni. L’archipel a connu plus de 200 séismes ces cinq dernières années.

Les États-Unis contre-attaquent. Jeudi, les Îles Marshall ont déposé deux plaintes contre les États-Unis, l’une auprès d’un tribunal américain. L’autre auprès de la Cour Internationale de Justice de La Haye, celle-là est une plainte qui vise aussi les 8 autres pays au monde dotés de l’arme nucléaire. Motif : ils n’ont pas respecté leur engagement de négocier le désarmement nucléaire. Faux, rétorque le gouvernement américain, qui affirme avoir réduit de 80% son armement nucléaire depuis la signature du traité de non-prolifération en 1973.

Aux Îles Salomon, les autorités interdisent à 44 cadres de Gold Ridge, de rentrer sur le territoire. Motif avancé: les Salomonais évaluent la dangerosité de la mine, partiellement noyée par les inondations-éclairs de début avril. Des déchets miniers toxiques pourraient avoir contaminé l’environnement. Justement rétorque St Barbara, la compagnie australienne qui exploite la mine, les 44 mineurs devaient se rendre à Gold Ridge pour évaluer les dégats et leur contribution est précieuse. St Barbara veut rouvrir la mine aussitot que possible. Mais le gouvernement salomonais ralentit le processus, regrette le directeur de Gold Ridge, Tim Lehany.

C’est tout sauf une surprise. Aucun journaliste n’a demandé de visa pour se rendre à Nauru depuis janvier. Le gouvernement nauruan a en effet augmenté de 4000% le prix du visa journaliste. Il est passé en janvier de 200 à 7000 dollars américains. Justification officielle : faire rentrer de l’argent dans les caisses de la petite République. À moins que cela ne soit une manœuvre, efficace, pour empêcher les journalistes de visiter le centre de rétention installé par l’Australie sur Nauru. En février la ministre nauruane de l’Intérieur, Charmaine Scotty, a accusé les journalistes étrangers de donner une image négative du pays.

L’Indonésie a distribué 3 600 000 moustiquaires depuis janvier pour lutter contre le paludisme. L’objectif d’ici la fin de l’année : atteindre 6 300 000 moustiquaires. 50 000 maisons ont aussi été passées à l’insecticide en 2013. Parmi les cinq provinces où le paludisme tue, il y a la Papouasie et la Papouasie occidentale, où des centaines de personnes risquent d’être infectés.


9) Women Call For Removal Of Military From Asia-Pacific Region
Peace campaigners release WILPF Auckland Declaration

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Pacific Scoop, April 27, 2014) – Women peace campaigners from Aotearoa, Australia, Hawai’i, Japan, Philippines and Polynesia/Te Ao Maohi have called for the removal of military occupation and bases in the Asia-Pacific region.

Meeting at AUT University in New Zealand, the three-day conference organised by the Aotearoa section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom also called for the removal of military training and promotions that “normalise violence” in schools.

The women campaigners urged that military spending be reallocated to eliminate all forms of violence – domestic, social and military.

The WILPF Auckland Declaration said:

Military occupation and military bases must be removed from the Asia Pacific region.

A call for the decolonisation and demilitarisation of the Pacific came from women at a regional gathering of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) in Auckland April 25-27.

Women attended from Rapa, Polynesia/Te Ao Maohi, Japan, the Philippines, Aotearoa, Australia and Hawai’i.

They also call for the removal of military training and promotion from schools since this normalises violence. Military spending should be reallocated to eliminate all forms of violence: domestic, social and military, to meet human needs.

People have been dispossessed of their land through military colonial forces and all forms of human rights violations.

The meeting called for recognition of independent countries [which] are still under colonial military domination.

“Militarisation in the past has caused the colonisation of countries which are still under domination,” said Roti Make from WILPF Polynesia section. She specified Hawai’i under the USA, Rapanui under Chile, French Polynesia/Te Ao Maohi, Kanaky (New Caledonia), Wallis and Futuna annexed under France, and West Papua under Indonesia.

“We call on the United Nations to accept our identity and recognise us as independent nations,” she added.

The women also called for an end to joint military exercises.

WILPF has its hundredth anniversary in April 2015 and they invite all women in the region to join their call.

The conference was held in partnership with Peace Movement Aotearoa and AUT’s Pacific Media Centre.

Pacific Scoop
All editorial and news content produced under the principles of Creative Commons. Permission to republish with attribution may be obtained from the Pacific Media Centre – [email protected]

10) Pacific nations to benefit from international training

By Online Editor
3:29 pm GMT+12, 28/04/2014, New Zealand

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) training course being held in Christchurch, New Zealand this week is aimed at helping small Pacific Island States more effectively manage the import, export and transport of radioactive material needed for medical and industrial applications.

The course is conducted by the IAEA, with funding by the European Union.

On-going education is needed to help better manage transport of radioactive material especially as they are being increasingly used for the treatment and pain management of Cancer.

Radioactive materials are also used regularly for routine medical diagnosis and for industrial applications such as radiography of welds and joints in steel pipelines and pressure vessels and density measurements in civil engineering projects including road construction.

Representatives from countries including Fiji, the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and Palau will attend the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material course which involves lectures, information sharing, discussions and practical work and is being hosted by ESR (the Institute of Environmental Science and Research).

It is hoped the course will help improve communications and foster a collaborative approach between the Pacific Island States to improve the safe transport of radioactive material intended for medical and industrial applications.

The course runs until 02 May) and will include a visit to Christchurch Hospital.


11) More countries likely to join PIDF

By Online Editor
12:41 pm GMT+12, 28/04/2014, Fiji

More countries are expected to join the newly-established Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF).

Fiji’s Roving Ambassador for the Pacific Litia Mawi told FBC News there are positive indications that the PIDF membership will increase during the 2nd PIDF meeting in Nadi in June.

“Many of the countries that didn’t come to the inaugural summit in August already indicate their interest to attend the second one which is coming up in June from the 18th to the 20th..We don’t have their flags up yet but we know their flags will be up,” said Roving Ambassador Mawi.

PIDF is a grand coalition of Pacific Governments, civil society organisations and business, all working together to enhance the cause of Pacific peoples everywhere.

Federated States of Micronesia Ambassador to Fiji Gerson Jackson is PIDF’s Interim Chair while Fiji’s Prime Minister Rear Admiral Voreqe Bainimarama is chair of the organisation’s governing council….


12) At least nine dead, 1,000 homeless in Bangladesh storm

Posted 28 April 2014, 16:23 AEST

A severe storm has left at least nine people dead and 1,000 homeless in northern Bangladesh, officials say.

The storm tore through dozens of villages in northern Netrokona district on Sunday night, destroying homes and wrecking rice paddy fields.

“Up to 20 people were injured including one whose condition is very critical,” district police official Rashel Miah told AFP.

“Around 1,000 homes” mostly made of mud and tin were flattened, government district administrator Abul Kalam Azad said.

The full extent of the storm’s destruction is not yet known.

Storms often hit Bangladesh during the early months of summer in the lead up the monsoon that generally begins in the first week of June.



13) PNG’s Lae university to tackle grievances


The newly re-installed vice chancellor of Papua New Guinea’s University of Technology, Dr Albert Schram, says he’s taking immediate measures to resolve long standing grievances.

Dr Schram has been back at the university in Lae for three weeks after being forced out of the country a year ago after the university council took issue with a reform programme he had taken.

He is back after students, boycotting classes, demanded he be re-instated as vice chancellor and given the appropriate visa.

Dr Schram says he does not intend taking an aggressive approach but urgent concerns for staff and students are being addressed.

“The staff has been promised a salary review several times, so that is quite a heavy process that we must start soon and for the students we can make some improvements which will improve their living and learning experience on campus quickly.”

The vice chancellor of Papua New Guinea’s University of Technology in Lae, Dr Albert Schram…Radio NZ


14) Australia open for talks

By Online Editor
12:35 pm GMT+12, 28/04/2014, Fiji

The Australian Government says it is in continued consultation with the Fijian Government over election assistance and will look favourably at any requests for assistance.

Acting Australian High Commissioner Glen Miles said the Australian Government was open to all consultations.

“We’re open to continuing consultations with the Fijian Government over what they require for the elections and it’s not just us but other donors as well,” Miles said.

“So we have regular meetings and as we identify gaps we have said that we are willing to assist and look at them.

“I know that our other donors are also looking at that as well so it’s continuing discussion and as these gaps are identified and as we move closer to the elections they will probably come to us with another request and they will look at us favourably.”

He also said they were still looking at processes for including Fiji in the expanded seasonal workers scheme for Australia and New Zealand.

However, he explained that it was not just about re-including Fiji in the scheme but rather it was about improving the whole scheme.

“We’re still looking at the process for that and it’s still moving along but no we haven’t had that many applicants,” Miles said.

“That’s something that Cabinet’s gotta look at but we are looking at some stage fairly soon.

“And that’s something that’s got to be decided and as I said previously it’s not just about Fiji, it’s about the whole program itself so at some stage there needs to be a review of it and how it’s working.”.


15) Fiji Party Calls For Unrestricted Access For Election Observer
Peoples Democratic Party want international standards applied

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, April 28, 2014) – Fiji’s Peoples Democratic Party has urged government to allow international observers to monitor the 2014 Elections based on international election standard.

PDP interim leader Adi Sivia Qoro says the observers must also be allowed to monitor the election proceedings based on international accepted terms of reference (TOR).

She said the government should consider this if it is to ensure the September 17 election is perceived as credible, fair and free.

[PIR editor’s note: Fijilive reported that “Whatever the result of the September 17 elections may be, New Zealand will accept it says NZ’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully. Radio NZ reported that McCully during his recent visit in Samoa showed confidence in the upcoming elections saying that it looked promising and it will be free and fair.” Radio Australia reported that “Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Brett Mason will meet with Fiji’s government to discuss election preparations.”]

“The analysis conducted would cover the legal framework, the functions of the election administration, the campaign activities of political parties and candidates, conduct of the media, the voting and the counting, the complaints and appeals process, and the announcement of the results,” Qoro said.

In an earlier interview, Fiji Elections Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the government was still in discussion with the Australian Government on the international observers mission and the TOR.



16) Journalism Professor Criticizes Attempts To Curb Free Expression
Robie says Indonesia, Philippines of greater concern than Fiji

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Pacific Scoop, April 28, 2014) – The author of a new book on Pacific media and politics has hit out at copycat cybercrime laws designed to curb freedom of expression on social media and independent blog news sites.

Pacific Media Centre director professor David Robie, author of Don’t Spoil My Beautiful Face: Media, Mayhem and Human Rights in the Pacific, made the comments at the book launch on AUT University at ANZAC weekend.

“Fiji is not the biggest worry in the region by a long shot. Indonesian repression in the two Melanesian provinces that make up the West Papua region and the climate of impunity in the Philippines where journalists are assassinated with ease are serious crises in the region,” he said.

“But when do you read about these issues in the New Zealand media?

“At least 206 journalists have been murdered in the Philippines since 1986—34 of them in the Ampatuan massacre in Mindanao in 2009. More than four years later nobody has been convicted for these atrocities.

‘Dangerous place’

“The Philippines is a far more dangerous place for the media under democracy than it was under the Marcos military dictatorship.”

Dr Robie also criticised the proposed new cybercrime law in Papua New Guinea, which will outlaw pseudonyms in social media and provide “full biometric scanning” of sim cards, and other repressive digital media legislation planned in the Pacific.

Speakers at the event included the AUT dean of Creative Technologies, Professor Desna Jury; Wiremu Tipuna, Takawaenga Māori at AUT (Ngati Kahungunu); Dr Steven Ratuva, president of the Pacific Islands Political Studies Association (PIPSA); publisher Tony Murrow of Little Island Press; and Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) chair Sandra Kailahi.

TV New Zealand’s Pacific correspondent, Barbara Dreaver, sent a “launch” message which was read out by Kailahi.

Commending the book, Dreaver’s message said: “Don’t Spoil My Beautiful Face takes its readers on a journey through a sometimes unfamiliar Pacific … and it’s a road you can’t help thinking you should be travelling on.

“West Papua, Bougainville, Fiji – it’s every journalist’s conscience. If it’s not, then it should be.”

According to Murrow, the book, with its focus on killings of journalists in the Philippines, and massacres, rape and torture in West Papua and Timor-Leste, highlighted how widespread the tragedies of the Pacific were.

The book is also a critique of the mainstream media which ignores and under-reports Pacific issues.

Pacific Scoop
All editorial and news content produced under the principles of Creative Commons. Permission to republish with attribution may be obtained from the Pacific Media Centre – [email protected]

17) Fiji Media Authority says political reports should to justice to vernacular

The chairman of the Media Industry Development Authority in Fiji says asking journalists to translate articles in the vernacular i-Taukei when reporting on political speeches is not heavy handed.

Earlier this month MIDA said it would keep a closer eye on the media and public debate leading up to the September elections.

Ashwin Raj says contrary to earlier reports, speeches don’t have to be submitted to the Authority but says media organisations need to ensure they accurately report what was said.

“Why don’t you make your speeches accessible and consistent to all the demographics, for instance the problem we’ve had that certain speeches in the vernacular are actually quite extremist while the English version is watered down. And so I think the public deserves to have a full transparent discourse, if you’ve got nothing to hide why would you worry.”

Earlier this month Ashwin Raj censured Fiji TV for broadcasting so-called hate speech and asked it to make a correction.

He says fines could also be levied but that would be up to the Solicitor General’s office to pursue.Radio NZ

18) Fiji NGO to work around Electoral Decree provision


Fiji Media Watch says it is important that non-governmental organisations continue to do their jobs despite limitations set out in the Electoral Decree.

The University of the South Pacific has cancelled its joint event with Media Watch on election reporting, as it is likely to be in breach of section 115.

That provision restricts any group receiving foreign funding from campaigning on election issues, which includes organising debates, panel discussions or meetings.

The director of Media Watch, Agatha Ferei, says it still plans to hold a workshop and a discussion on media freedom.

“The way we are handling this is respecting what we’ve got as a clause, and at the same time, trying to work the limitation and be able to carry out activities. That is still important, for organisations to continue to carry out activities that they have planned out to do.”

Agatha Ferei is encouraging the public to attend USP’s replacement panel discussion on press freedom and the election.

Section 115 does not restrict educational organisations.Radio NZ

19)  ABC’s Australia Network signs content deal with Indonesia’s MNC

Updated 28 April 2014, 18:03 AEST

The ABC’s Australia Network has signed a distribution deal with Indonesia’s largest media company, the MNC Group.

Australian news and features will be broadcast across three of MNC’s channels during May as part of an initiative named ‘Window on Australia’.

Australia Network already has a reciprocal partnership with China’s Shanghai Media Group (SMG), which will also broadcast ‘Window on Australia’ content on its channels in May.

Earlier this month, the ABC secured a new arrangement with SMG that allows the ABC to sell media content, enter international co-productions and generate sponsorship through a base in Shanghai.

ABC International CEO Lynley Marshall says the latest agreement provides ‘unprecedented access’ to local Indonesian media.

“We are working now with Indonesian crews to create content that will appeal to Indonesian audiences,” she said.

Australia Network has been rebroadcast on MNC’s Indovision channel for seven years.

The Managing Director of the MNC Media Group, Ms Nana Putra, says she hopes a similar ‘Window on Indonesia’ special will also be broadcast in Australia.

“Window on Australia…will provide an opportunity for Indonesian audiences to get to know and understand our Australian neighbours,” she said.

“This co-production strengthens our friendship with one of the region’s most trusted and respected media organisations.”

The deal comes in the wake of tensions between Australia and Indonesia over allegations of spying, which were broadcast by the ABC.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has recently questioned the future of the international broadcaster, saying the money it costs to run could be better directed elsewhere.

The ABC runs Australia Network under a $223 million, 10-year contract for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).


20) Banks and Land Grabs – Oxfam report launched this morning

Hi All

As flagged, you may have heard in the news<> this morning Oxfam Australia has launched a report about how Australia’s Big 4 Banks (Westpac, National Australia Bank, ANZ and the Commonwealth Bank) are backing companies accused of kicking some of the world’s poorest people off their land. These land grabs by palm oil, sugar and timber companies have enabled illegal logging and deforestation, destroyed crops and have left people homeless and hungry. There is a substantial Melanesian angle with two PNG SABL cases – WTK and the IT&S SABL covered in Colin’s piece. BTW – WTK IS APPARENTLY TRYING TO DENY ANY INVOLVEMENT AT ALL IN ANY SABLs – so if you have anything you want to contribute on that front – send it through!

If you have a minute, we would be very grateful if you could contribute to the intense debate currently taking place on traditional and social media – and activate your networks to take action on the banks. This story will also feature on ABC’s 7.30Report tonight – so it would be great to have people watching that too.

You can find our Report<’s%20big%204%20banks%20and%20land%20grabs_fa_web.pdf> here and our media release here<>.

We’re encouraging people to write directly to the banks here<>.

You can also Share our post on Facebook<> to let people know about the issue and talk to with your followers on Twitter about it. We have some suggested Tweets below that you can use as a starting point, just click the links.

The big four banks using my money to help kick people off their land? Say no to land grabs.<>
Australia’s big four banks are involved in land grabs which are kicking communities across the world off their land.
<’s%20big%20four%20banks%20are%20involved%20in%20land%20grabs%20which%20are%20kicking%20communities%20across%20the%20world%20off%20their%20land%20>I was shocked when I found out that my bank is involved in land grabs. Write to your bank now.<>
Totally happy to discuss anything further, we’re keen for other NGOs or individuals to take this and run with it – and there’s further cases in our report which we didn’t have a chance to go into further that we’d welcome others doing so,

Best Regards,

Shen Narayanasamy | Economic Justice Advocacy Coordinator | Oxfam Australia
132 Leicester Street, Carlton, VIC 3053
Tel: +61 3 9289 9378 | Fax: +61 3 9347 1983 | Mob: +61 (0) 424 033 118 | E: [email protected]
NB: I do not work on Tuesday Afternoon after 1pm<>

21) Bank quiet on links to alleged illegal logger in PNG


Westpac Bank says it can’t comment on alleged links with a Malaysian company accused of land grabbing in Papua New Guinea.

Oxfam Australia says the bank is among Australia’s big four banks not living up to their image as leaders in sustainable banking.

In a new report Oxfam alleges Westpac has had a long term financing relationship with the logging company WTK Group, which was found by a PNG Commission of Inquiry to hold an invalid land lease.

Westpac says it welcomes Oxfam’s report and it regards land grabbing as a serious issue which it addresses through responsible lending and banking practices.

But the bank says customer confidentiality means it can’t comment on particular allegations made by Oxfam – including the acknowledgement of specific customer relationships.Radio NZ

22) S&P says Fiji’s promised election prompts upgrade

By Online Editor
12:46 pm GMT+12, 28/04/2014, Fiji

The credit rating agency Standard and Poors says it has revised Fiji’s rating outlook from stable to positive in view of Fiji’s upcoming elections.

The agency also says it has affirmed foreign and local currency issuer credit ratings at BB.

A credit analyst, Craig Michaels, says if successful, Fiji’s return to democracy and continued economic reforms should support sound growth.

“Potentially, a transition to democratic rule will bring in a lot of official lending and donor aid from the international community. It may also attract a lot of foreign investment into the local economy and that should be supportive for economic growth through infrastructure spending and private investment.”

But Craig Michaels says a smooth transition is not assured and there are a number of possible scenarios that could dampen Fiji’s economic growth prospects, including political instability.


23) Solomon Islands Bans Gold Ridge Mine Employees From Returning
Government: Investigations into abandonment must be completed first

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, April 26, 2014) – Australian mining company St Barbara says it doesn’t know why the Solomon Islands Government has banned its employees from re-entering the country.

St Barbara shut down its Gold Ridge mine three weeks ago during the flash floods that killed 21 people and left 50-thousand others homeless.

The Government’s Communication Unit says the restriction has been enforced to allow a joint agencies investigation by the Labour Division, Immigration, Police, Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Ministry of Environment into safety and security at the mine site.

The special secretary to the Prime Minister, Dr Phil Tagini, has confirmed to Pacific Beat that the Immigration Department has prevented employees of St Barbara from re-entering the country.

He says there is significant concern in the general community and especially downstream and along the neighbouring Matepona River about the way in which St Barbara evacuated the mine after the flash floods of early May.

“In terms of how St Barbara left the mine without informing the relevant departments, the police, the land-owning communities, the Environment Department and all that and so they felt that that was not totally appropriate and to a certain extent was not responsible,” Dr Tagini said.

“But we have now got approval by Cabinet for an interim working group to be set up comprising of all those who have an interest in the mine and that will provide the framework for discussing all the issues that all the different parties have including the mining company.”

It’s understood the ban relates to 44 expatriate workers who are mostly managers and executive officers.

[PIR editor’s note: Solomon Times reported that “The Gold Ridge Landowners and Guadalcanal Provincial government have warned both the government and St. Barbara that they will not accept decisions of mining on their land without being involved in the consultation process. A joint statement from the Gold Ridge landowners and Guadalcanal Province says while they share Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo’s disappointment over St Barbara’s absence from its legal and technical obligations on Gold Ridge in the aftermath of the April floods, the Government must not sideline landowners in any dealing regarding Gold Ridge mine.”]

St Barbara asks for Government clarification about staff ban

In a statement, St Barbara said it hadn’t been told why its employees had been barred from re-entering the country.

It said it had sent the government a site stabilisation plan and its experts were ready to implement it.

And in a statement to the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, St Barbara said it had not abandoned Gold Ridge and, subject to the provision of necessary Solomon Islands Government support, it was planning to return and operate the mine.

St Barbara said it did not understand why the Immigration Division had banned the senior managers and the company had sought clarification from the Government.

In previous statements, St Barbara has explained that it received 1000mm of rain in four days resulting in floods that cut the mine’s access road in many places and caused substantial damage to the approaches to the Tinahulu Bridge.

This meant Gold Ridge could not receive diesel fuel or other essential supplies and a decision was made to evacuate the mine on April 7.

Gold Ridge director, Tim Lehany, said all reasonable steps were taken to secure equipment and hazardous material on site before the employees left.

A team of United Nations specialists has arrived at the mine after the Solomon Islands Government asked for help to assess the stability of Gold Ridge’s tailings dam amid fears it could fail and endanger the lives of 8000 people living nearby.

It will look such issues as chemical wastes, cyanide, explosive hazards and other threats to the environment and human security.

Radio Australia


24) Vanuatu opposition critical of passport policy


Vanuatu’s opposition says it warned the government weeks ago that China doesn’t recognise dual citizenship, but it went ahead and launched a visa fast-track system anyway.

The Chinese embassy in Port Vila has asked the government to provide the names and passport numbers of Chinese people once they have been granted Vanuatu citizenship, because they will automatically lose their Chinese citizenship.

The request comes just weeks after Vanuatu introduced a Capital Investment Immigration Programme, based in Hong Kong, aimed to collect millions for the government by selling fast-tracked citizenship to Chinese nationals.

But the opposition says the request indicates Beijing’s dissatisfaction with Vanuatu’s money-making initiatives such as this programme and Vanuatu’s diplomatic mission in China issuing visas to people with no intention to travel to Vanuatu.

It says these people use the visas to take money out of China to invest and launder in Hong Kong and Macau.

25) Immigration staff at Indonesia-PNG border not back on duty

By Online Editor
09:26 am GMT+12, 28/04/2014, Indonesia

Jayapura immigration office in the border of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea has not brought back it staff for security reasons.

“We have not got our immigration staff back in Skouw, Jayapura, after gun fires and border fence closing,” explained Head of Jayapura Immigration Office, Gardu Tampubolon here on Friday.

He sated that Skouw immigrations staff have been transferred to Hamadi indefinitely.

“Citizens activities in both the countries are still on but it is done via the sea since it is considered to be more secure,” pointed out Tampubolon.

Besides immigration staff that is not back in Skouw, the market in the border area that sells daily necessities for Papua New Guinea citizens is also still closed.

Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border fence has been closed since April 5, after gunfire between security forces and paramilitary groups..


26) Detention camp upsets landowners in PNG’s Manus


The principal landowners on whose land Australia’s Papua New Guinea detention centre has been built are frustrated by the way things have turned out.

One of the landowners, Porou Papi, says they initially saw the facility as an economic opportunity for Manus Island but Canberra has not used any of their resources.

Mr Papi says they are upset with the treatment of asylum seekers there and the way it reflects on Manus people.

“Why do we have to detain them for? We Manus people love to look after people, not detaining them. We don’t like it. We don’t like the way the Australians are treating this detention centre. That’s what we are cross about. These people were seeking for asylum. We should be helping them.”

Porou Papi.Radio NZ

27) Canberra backs down on PNG asylum safety guarantee


Australia’s Immigration Minister has backed away from earlier comments where he guaranteed the safety of asylum seekers inside his country’s detention centre on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

After last February’s violence that injured more than 60 asylum seekers and killed an Iranian man, Reza Berati, Mr Morrison said he could guarantee the safety of asylum seekers who remained in the centre and who acted cooperatively with those who were trying to provide them with support and accommodation.

It was later revealed that the attacks occurred within the centre at the hands of some of the camp’s security guards.

But in an interview with the ABC about the safety of Manus detainees, Mr Morrison says it’s difficult to ensure safety at all times.

He says that while it’s his aspiration to guarantee the safety of asylum seekers, it’s difficult to do so in every instance.Radio NZ


28) Vanuatu Victims Of Cyclone Lusi Still Awaiting Assistance
More than a month after storm government hasn’t offered help

By Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, April 28, 2014) – It’s now over a month, but the victims of cyclone Lusi have not yet received assistance following the cluster survey on the ground assessment report.

The Director of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) Shadrack Rubert Welegtabit, confirmed to Daily Post yesterday that the NDMO and the on the ground cluster assessment report was done, approved by the National Disaster Council (NDC) and transmitted to the Council of Ministers for formal funding approval but no answer is given yet.

In the meantime, the affected population mainly in agriculture is advised to use up the left over crops damaged by cyclone Lusi while waiting for assistance from the national government help.

The worst affected areas are in South Santo where 8 people, that included women and children, lost their lives and were displaced from their village and the displaced population of Marae village on Emae.

Maewo Island in the Panama Province was one of the affected, especially the garden crops and damage to houses and coastal areas.

A spokesman from Maewo who spoke to Daily Post via a mobile phone said, there are many rock blocks along the roads used by vehicles between coastal villages.

“Vehicles cannot connect people to other villages along the coastal areas of Maewo because of huge boulders blocking the roads. We need heavy machinery to remove the boulders so that trucks and vehicles can use the roads again,” he said.

In the meantime, Daily Post could not get confirmation from the Prime Minister’s Office if the Council of Ministers had already approved the funds for the emergency relief supplies nor the amount of funds required to meet the emergency needs of the affected population from cyclone Lusi.

It’s now over a month and the affected population are still waiting.

Vanuatu Daily Post

29) Climate Change and the Pacific Islands

By Online Editor
3:55 pm GMT+12, 28/04/2014, Solomon Islands

How Solomon Islands could serve as a model for protecting small Pacific Island nations from the effects of climate change.

On April 3, 2014 a tropical storm named Ita stubbornly hovered over the island of Guadalcanal in the Western Pacific. In fewer than 12 hours, Ita dumped more than a meter of rainfall on the island. Rivers overflowed their banks with mud and debris causing flash flooding from the mountains to the sea. In Honiara, the Mataniko River cut a new and destructive path through villages, carrying away homes, women and children. Out in the eastern portion of the country, the rivers pushed mud into remote villages, destroying their food gardens and fouling their water supply. In the western part of the island the torrent of water tossed cement bridges around like building blocks.

By the time the carnage was over, Ita was responsible for at least 21 deaths, more than 30 missing, hundreds of homes destroyed, and in excess of 10,000 people displaced. The municipal water system was disrupted and what was available was contaminated by river water and sewage, making it undrinkable. Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands, sustained serious damage to its bridges, roads, electrical services and water conduits, dealing a serious blow to its fledgling economy. Infectious disease outbreaks among residents began within 36 hours of the flood.

Ita was one of the most severe weather events experienced in Honiara’s history. And while it may not have been a cyclone (at least at that point), the effects were no less devastating. This will not be the last major weather event experienced by a vulnerable small Pacific Island nation like Solomon Islands: extreme weather events are projected to increase in frequency over the next 20 years.

The irony of the storm is that it came one month after the USAID and the World Bank initiated climate change adaptation programs in Solomon Islands. The World Bank funded a $9.1 million grant to the Community Resilience to Climate Change and Disaster Risk in Solomon Islands Project (CRISP) and the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery Grant/ EU- Asian, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Natural Disaster Risk Reduction Program, to be used to strengthen the country’s response to climate and disaster risk. USAID along with with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) pledged $1.5 million to be used in the Choiseul Province of Solomon Islands for climate change adaptation. These are excellent programs that are greatly needed in these vulnerable regions.

Natural disasters are not new to Solomon Islands. In 2007 and 2013 earthquakes and tsunamis killed more than 50 people in the western and remote Temotu regions of the country. Every rainy season, mountain rivers bloated by heavy rains wash out coastal roads and small bridges. They rip through gardens, homes and schools. These infrastructure disruptions have enormous cumulative social and economic consequences, especially in countries like Solomon Islands where there is little to no margin for economic error. This includes the personal economic impacts the average resident experiences as they rely on subsistence living through coastal fishing and food grown in their gardens. Health impacts following storms like Ita are detrimental to families, education and workforce productivity. The secondary disaster caused by the flood is already underway in Honiara and its outlying communities with cases of infectious diarrhea, dysentery and worsening of the already existing dengue outbreak. Without shoring up the response by health systems these infectious outbreaks can contribute to premature death and disability.

The World Bank’s news release announcing it’s Solomon Island Climate Control grant stated “Based on Pacific Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI) modeling, the country has a 50% chance of experiencing an event causing loses in hundreds of millions of dollars, and casualties larger than 1,650 people.” While Ita may not have proved to be as deadly as this model predicts, it has generated a great deal of damage and in doing so she is a warning of what can happen in a vulnerable South Pacific urban area, like Honiara.

USAID/GIZ and the World Bank funds awarded to Solomon Islands may best serve the country now by being diverted to assisting in thoughtful infrastructure rebuilding in the damaged areas. In Honiara, mitigation of a repeat of the current damage should include consideration for strategically placed embankments and levees, or the creation of intentional sloughs to control flash flooding. Reconstructing bridges and roads and making them more durable will keep commerce and goods moving even in the event of a significant storm. New homes to replace those destroyed by Ita should be built away from flood plains. The Solomon Island government, in particular the Ministry of Forestry, must rethink its current deforestation and land use policies in order to minimize storm runoff by allowing reforestation to catch up with and exceed current timber harvest rates.

Ita has been a powerful and deadly wakeup call for Solomon Islands and for all Pacific Island nations. Unfortunately these vulnerable countries bear a disproportionate risk of climate change weather impacts while contributing very little to the greenhouse gases that cause them. Thoughtful development and rebuilding to counter these vulnerabilities may be their best climate change strategy while they wait for those of us in developed countries to reduce our carbon footprint. With the current funding from USAID/GIZ and the World Bank, Honiara could very well become a model of how to rebuild a coastal urban area to maintain sustainability and safety, despite global warming and climate control changes that are beyond the control of its people.

Eileen Natuzzi, MD, MS, FACS is a public health surgeon and director of surgical education for the Solomon Islands Living Memorial Program, an educational partnership between health providers in the U.S., Australia and Solomon Islands.


30) Pacific Islanders call for climate justice

By Online Editor
3:49 pm GMT+12, 28/04/2014, Marshall Islands

By Duncan Roden

A meeting of the Cartagena Dialogue for Progressive Action took place in the Marshall Islands on April 1. The body is composed of 30 countries working towards a legally binding United Nations climate change convention before of an international summit next year.

Delegates had a chance to witness first-hand the effects of climate change in the host country, a small atoll nation in the Pacific Ocean, where no land rises more than two metres above sea level.

Marshall Islands president Christopher Loeak said in his opening speech: “One month ago today, this atoll and others nearby were hit by the highest king tides in at least 30 years, causing more than 1000 people to flee their homes.”

Loeak pointed out this came, “only seven months after we declared a State of Disaster from a prolonged drought across our northern atolls that left many of our people without food and water”.

He said: “If this is what we see now, what does our future hold? What will king tides, droughts and storms be like in 10 years? In 20 years? In 30 years? I fear that life in the Marshall Islands may soon become like living in a war zone.”

The meeting took place only a few days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Fifth Assessment Report that confirmed global warming is real, human activity is responsible and the effects are already being felt.

If climate change continues unabated, small island states in the Pacific will suffer more very hot days. Rainfall will decrease in the dry season and rise in the wet season. Extreme rainfall events that now, on average, occur once every 20 years will occur four times every 20 years by 2055 and seven times by 2090.

Ocean swell events that damage coral reefs, cause coastal erosion and inundate land will occur more frequently, especially during years with a strong El Nino, which will become more extreme.

Tropical cyclones will become less frequent but more intense. The movement of aquatic and terrestrial invasive fauna within and across regions will cause significant environmental, economic and social damage.

Perhaps the most disturbing effect for small islands is sea level rise. Warming of 4°C would produce a 0.5 to 2 metre sea-level rise.

Small island states have 16% of their land area in low elevation coastal areas (less than 10 metres) as opposed to a global average of 2%. They also have the largest proportion of low elevation coastal urban land area at 13%, in contrast to the global average of 8%.

This means rising sea levels could displace between 1.2 million and 2.2 million people from the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. Some people have already been forced to flee their homeland.

In 2008, during an exceptionally high inundation event, Carteret Islanders sought refuge on neighbouring Bougainville. The next year they began a process of permanent migration there. They have been considered to be the world’s first “climate refugees”.

Despite the real possibility of forced migration due to environmental effects, many Pacific islanders are opposed to being labelled “climate refugees”. This is especially prevalent in Kiribati and Tuvalu, two countries that might be completely inundated by the end of this century.

“The term refugee evokes a sense of helplessness and a lack of dignity that contradicts their very strong sense of pride,” said Jane McAdam and Maryanne Loughry, forced migration scholars investigating the impacts of climate change in the Pacific.

“Refugees flee their own government, whereas the people of Kiribati and Tuvalu have no desire to escape from their countries … They say it is the actions of other countries that will ultimately force their movement, not the actions of their own leaders.

“Refugees are viewed as people waiting helplessly in camps, relying on handouts, with no prospects for the future. Tuvaluans and I-Kiribati don’t want to be seen like that ― they want to be viewed as active, valued members of a community.”

Indeed, small island states have often been at the forefront of pushing the most determined proposals for action against global warming. International agreements have largely failed their demands.

They are also leading by example; countries such as the Marshall Islands are switching to renewable energy sources and exploring new technologies such as ocean thermal energy conversion. But their efforts are hampered by their small economies and lack of resources.

Concept of “climate refugee” does not have a legal basis at the moment. Under the UN Refugee Convention, a refugee must be in danger of persecution in their homeland. This is not the case for those forced to flee for environmental reasons.

A legal case in New Zealand last year showed the lack of international legal protection that awaits the millions who might be forced from their homelands due to climate change. Ioane Teitiota, from Kiribati, argued that NZ immigration authorities should not deport him, even though his visa had expired, because rising seas were threatening his homeland.

High court judge John Priestley acknowledged that Kiribati was suffering environmental degradation due to climate change, but rejected the argument that Teitiota was being “persecuted passively” by the environment.

Priestley wrote: “On a broad level, were they to succeed and be adopted in other jurisdictions, at a stroke, millions of people who are facing medium-term economic deprivation, or the immediate consequences of natural disasters or warfare, or indeed presumptive hardships caused by climate change, would be entitled to protection under the Refugee Convention.

“It is not for the High Court of New Zealand to alter the scope of the Refugee Convention in that regard. Rather that is the task, if they so choose, of the legislatures of sovereign states.”

In April last year, the Refugee Council of Australia implored the Australian government to become the first nation in the world to recognise “climate refugees”. But the plea fell on deaf ears, part of a global trend from developed nations.

New Zealand offers residency to 75 individuals and their families from Kiribati and Tuvalu and 250 from Tonga each year. But the applicant must be between 18 and 45 years old with an offer and proof of employment, in good health, and be proficient in English.

At the moment, the Pacific islands are largely on their own ― struggling against the big, powerful polluters like Australia and the US for the right to continue living on their traditional lands.

31) Pacific islands may be more adaptable to rising sea levels than first thought, say researchers

Updated 28 April 2014, 14:56 AEST

Researchers say there is evidence that low-lying Pacific islands nations can grow, making them more adaptable to the threat of rising sea levels caused by climate change.

A study by the University of Auckland has found that storm events and waves depositing large amounts of coral and sand have in many cases built up the surface of islands.

Audio: Pacific islands may be more adaptable to rising sea levels than first thought (ABC News)

Professor Paul Kench, from the university’s School of Environment, says islands are not fixed but flexible shifting landforms.

“We have examples in Tuvalu, the Marshalls and the Maldives where islands have grown vertically by as much as 10 to 20 centimetres over the last decade,” he told Pacific Beat.

“Through extreme events such as the multiple tsunami that we’ve experienced in recent decades, and storm events as waves wash up and over top the edges of islands, they can actually carry considerable quantities of sand that then get draped across the island’s surface.”

Climate change experts have warned low-lying coastal zones and small islands will be vulnerable to loss of land with sea-level rises.

Mr Kench says the research raises questions of how Pacific nations will adapt to changes of their land.

“Now we’ve started to unlock the box to say that we think the … landforms that communities live on will still be there, but they are changing in ways that we’re only just becoming aware of.

“That raises secondary questions: the islands will change, can we still live on them? How will the potable water resources change? Will communities still be able to grow crops in these settings?”


32) Ba punished, going down to Amicale 2-1

By Online Editor
1:08 pm GMT+12, 28/04/2014, Fiji

-BA faced a major setback in its campaign to reach the Oceania Football Confederation Champions League final after going down to Amicale 2-1 in the first leg of the semi-finals at Govind Park in Ba yesterday.

The Vodafone 4R Electrical Men in Black scored early but then allowed the Vanuatu club to hit back in quick succession in the second spell.

The goals lifted the visitors who started to find spaces in Ba’s defensive armour to create more scoring opportunities.

Ba coach Yogendra Dutt introduced nippy Abbu Zahid Shaheed and Mavileko Nakama after conceding the second goal to add firepower up-front.

Shaheed showed glimpses of his uncanny dribbling skills but it came after the damage had been done.

Dutt said the defensive blunders cost them.

“We gave two goals away in the second half and that turned out to be the difference in this match,” he said.

“We led 1-0 at halftime and wanted to maintain that lead, but when you make the mistakes you expect to get punished.

“We made two mistakes and they scored. We had chances to finish off but could not do it. There is another game in Port Vila and we will do our best to turn things around.”

Avinesh Suwamy found the back of the net in the 12th minute after his drive went in off goalkeeper Chickau Mansale.

Amicale equalised in the 59th minute after Dominique Fred intercepted a back pass and drove the ball past Epeli Codro.

The visitors shocked the host fans a minute later with replacement Kensi Tangis hammering the ball in as the Ba defence crumbled.

Amicale coach Nathan Hall said his boys put on a gutsy performance.

Hall said they would need to maintain their consistency in the next match.

“I thought we were the better side in the first half,” he said.

“I was disappointed with the first goal because there was a foul on our captain Nelson Kilifa. But I knew that with the balance of play that if we hung in there we would get one. And then to get another one 60 seconds was a bonus.

“We played well in the second half and dictated possession nicely. We created a few good moments in the match. The boys were gutsy and it is an outstanding result heading into Port Vila.

“At the end of the day still it is halfway. We have another 90 minutes to go, so we have to make sure that we deliver a professional performance.

“Ba is not out of the series and they have the ability to score goals. They have a lot of power and pace up front and will be dangerous. We will need to switch on and make sure that we play to our full potential.”

Ba and Vanuatu will face off at the PVL Stadium in Port Vila this Saturday.

In the other semi-final, Auckland City defeated AS Pirae 3-0.


Chickau Mansale, Davide Talone, Esava Naqeleca, Nikola Vasilic, Francois Sakama, Daniel Natou, Nelson Kilifa, Dominique Fred, Jack Wetney, Marko Dordevic, Colin Marshal.


Epeli Codro, Avinesh Suwamy, Jone Vesikula, Marika Madigi, Ronil Kumar, Maciu Dunadamu, Remueru Tekiate, Kiniviliame Naika, Peni Finau, Osea Vakatalesau, Laisenia Raura.


33) Fiji Bati squad named

By Online Editor
1:06 pm GMT+12, 28/04/2014, Fiji

VODAFONE Fiji Bati coach Rick Stone named a powerful team for this Saturday’s Pacific Test against Toa Samoa at Sportingbet Stadium in Penrith, Australia.

The winner of the match, which will kick-off at 9.30pm (Fiji time), will qualify for the Four Nations tournament also involving Australia, New Zealand and England in October.

Stone named 13 players, who played in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, in the 19-member team to face Samoa.

Fiji-based players Osea Sadrau and Atunaisa Turagaiviu alongside veteran dual international Lote Tuqiri has also been named for the match.

“Out of the 19 we have named, 13 played in the World Cup where we made it to the semi-final,” Stone said in a statement.

“We had a few unavailable, including Akuila Uate, Sisa Waqa, Apisai Koroisau and Wes Naiqama, however we have a good mix of youth and experience and I have no doubt they will do Fiji proud on Saturday night.”

North Queensland Cowboys’ forward Ashton Sims will captain the side and Stone said he would lead the team well.

“Ashton has played for Fiji in the last two World Cups, he is really passionate about representing Fiji and I know he will do a great job leading the boys out on Saturday night.

“We continue to work hard to raise the profile of rugby league in Fiji and this game provides us with another chance to do that off the back of the World Cup.”

The Fiji squad go into camp today and will be based in Penrith for the week.

Fiji Bati: Peni Botiki, Jason Bukuya, Regan Cambell-Gillard, Kane Evans, Aaron Groom, Marika Koroibete, Eto Nabuli, Kevin Naiqama, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Semi Radradra, Vitale Jr Roqica, Osea Sadrau, Ashton Sims (c), Korbin Sims, Tariq Sims, James Storer, Alipate Tani, Atunaisa Turagaiviu, Lote Tuqiri.

34) Good governance workshop for new Oceania sports leaders

By Online Editor
3:57 pm GMT+12, 28/04/2014, Guam

New Pacific sports leaders in the region will undergo a workshop on ‘Good Governance’ at the annual Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC) General Assembly and associated meetings in Guam this week.

ONOC Executive Director Dennis Miller says a lot of new leaders have joined the ONOC family and the good governance workshop is very relevant.

“We have a lot of new leaders and it is a good opportunity for them to get a crash course on what their roles and responsibilities are,” said Miller.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has reiterated the need for the IOC family to focus on good governance throughout the world this year.

All 17 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) will gather in Guam this week for a series of meetings before the General Assembly on Saturday (May 3).

Various other workshops such as the Oceania Sports Education Program (OSEP) and Oceania Regional Anti-Doping Organisations have been undertaken since last week.

Organisation of Sports Federations of Oceania (OSFO) according to Miller will also be conducting a workshop on Wednesday focusing on ‘Positive Coaching and Athletes resilience programs.

“That should be quiet interesting because we need to continually upgrade our coaching expertise in the region,” Miller said.

Meanwhile, the OSEP assessment programme continues today.

35) Samoa fumes after Anthony Milford pulls out of Fiji Test following Maroons’ Origin approach

By Online Editor
1:05 pm GMT+12, 28/04/2014, Australia

-The Daily Telegraph has been told Maroons coach Mal Meninga has been privately speaking to Canberra star Anthony Milford about his possible selection in this year’s State of Origin side.

The conversations have prompted Milford to withdraw from Samoa’s team to play Fiji in a Test match at Penrith next Saturday.

And Samoan officials aren’t happy.

Several clubs are threatening to withhold their stars from playing in the Test, aimed at promoting rugby league throughout the Pacific.

Milford, who has been in dazzling form this year for the Raiders as they try to get him to renege before round 13 on a two-year-deal he signed with Brisbane earlier this year, played all four games for Samoa at last year’s World Cup.

Samoan management agreed to play the match — after the NSW-Queensland under 20s Origin game — after being promised both sides would be at full strength.

Milford and Brisbane’s Josh McGuire won’t play now. Others NRL clubs have the potential to further erode the game’s standing.

Samoa officials have made contact with the NRL to determine whether coaches would release players for the game.

It’s understood Milford was keen to play until he spoke to Meninga. Now, under pressure from Queensland, the youngster decided to make him unavailable for Samoa.

Samoan football operations manager and former NRL star Nigel Vagana admitted he was disappointed.

“We are trying to grow the game internationally but there are still some areas which are selfish toward the international game,” he said.

“The (ARL) Commission have said they want to grow the game through the Pacific and internationally.

“It’s a shame this is still happening.

“It’s not the issue of the players, it’s more the system.”

Asked about Milford, Vagana said: “I heard he was unavailable.

“But I can’t knock him or anyone for putting their hand up and having a crack.”

There are incredible rewards for the winner of tomorrow week’s game.

They will become the fourth team in the end-of-season Four Nations involving Australia, New Zealand and England.

Hence why Samoa and Fiji want first-string sides.

Entry into the Four Nations would offer a huge boost to the victorious Pacific nation in Government support, sponsorship and junior numbers.

One source close to the game said: “Unfortunately the clubs aren’t supporting this game.

“This match is massive and needs to be supported. The winner will play against the world’s best at the end of the year.”

On a bright note though, Krisnan Inu has made himself available for Samoa.

Samoa squad: Leeson Ah Mau (St George Illawarra), Fa’amanu Brown (Cronulla), David Fa’alogo (Newcastle), Krisnan Inu (Canterbury), Ricky Leutele (Cronulla), Isaac Liu (Sydney Roosters), Dunamis Lui (Manly), Reni Maitua (Canterbury), Penani Manumaleali’i (Cronulla), Suaia Matagi (Warriors), David Nofoaluma (Wests Tigers), Junior Paulo (Parramatta), Dominique Peyroux (Warriors), Jesse Sene-Lefao (Manly), Tim Simona (Wests Tigers), Michael Sio (Warriors), Kyle Stanley (St George Illawarra), Sam Tagataese (Cronulla), Daniel Vidot (Brisbane).


36) Kangaroos replace injured Jarryd Hayne with Josh Morris, Kiwis make wholesale changes to squad

Updated 27 April 2014, 20:20 AEST

The Kangaroos will have a familiar look but the Kiwis will be almost unrecognisable in Friday’s Anzac Test.

The Australian Test selectors have resisted the temptation to make major changes to the side that lifted the Rugby League World Cup last year for Friday’s Test against New Zealand in Sydney.

Kangaroos team

B Slater; D Boyd, G Inglis, J Morris, B Morris; J Thurston, C Cronk; M Scott, C Smith (c), J Tamou; G Bird, S Thaiday, P Gallen. Int: D Cherry-Evans, B Cordner, N Myles, C Parker, M Gillett. (One to be omitted)

Full-back Billy Slater and half-back Cooper Cronk keep their spots in the starting side despite indifferent form and outstanding recent performances from Greg Inglis and Daly Cherry-Evans.

South Sydney full-back Inglis was named in the centres and Manly’s Cherry-Evans, who produced a dazzling display against Canberra on Sunday afternoon, was named on the bench.

Coach Tim Sheens picked Sam Thaiday despite the Brisbane back rower missing the last two games for his club due to a calf injury.

Matt Gillett is on stand-by to make his Test debut for the Kangaroos after being named in the 18-man squad.

Parramatta star Jarryd Hayne is ruled out with an AC joint injury and Canterbury’s Josh Morris will play centre despite the return to fitness of long-time incumbent Justin Hodges.

“We went for Morris who has a little bit more football under his belt and he plays right centre for NSW,” Sheens said.

“In a short preparation he knows everything we’ve done for the last two seasons as he’s been in and around the squad.

“If Justin had been fit last year, he would have gone on the Kangaroos tour.

Audio: Media Call: Tim Sheens (ABC News)

“He’s had three-and-a-half games this year and I am sure he’ll be picked by Queensland for State of Origin.

“I think coming down to the end of the year if he’s going well, he’ll be picked for the Four Nations.”

Sheens has changed the make-up of his interchange bench with Cronulla’s Andrew Fifita omitted following his difficult start to the season and replaced by Gold Coast’s Nate Myles.

Sydney Roosters back-rower Boyd Cordner is preferred to Canberra’s Josh Papalii and joins Corey Parker and Daly Cherry-Evans who keep their utility spots.

Sheens said starting Cherry-Evans over Cronk was discussed by selectors, but the Melbourne half-back deserved the chance keep his spot.

“It just comes down to with a short turnaround and that incumbents deserved an opportunity,” he said.

“It’s healthy to have those guys playing as well as they are.

“There’s no one there that shouldn’t be there. They are not in threat of being dropped by their teams let alone our team.”

Kiwis select six debutants in Test squad

Kiwis squad

G Beale, A Blair, J Bromwich, K Bromwich, G Eastwood, T Harris, S Havili, B Henry, P Hiku, I John, S Johnson, S Mannering, S Moa, J Nightingale, K Proctor, M Taupau, R Tuivasa-Sheck, D Whare. (One to be omitted)

While most of the Kangaroos side picked itself, the Kiwis were forced to make a raft of changes to the side which got dismantled in the final of last year’s Rugby League World Cup.

Whether through injuries or a lack of form New Zealand only retained five of the players from the 34-2 drubbing.

Back-up Panthers five-eighth Isaac John has been called in as a replacement for the injured Kieran Foran and 21-year-old Warriors rookie Siliva Havili, who does not have a full NRL game to his name, takes the place of Isaac Luke.

Manly Sea Eagles utility back Peta Hiku, fresh off a four-try effort on Sunday, was picked and is expected to line up at full-back with Warriors utility Ben Henry, Tigers prop Martin Taupau and Storm forward Kenny Bromwich the other players in the gun to make their first starts in black and white.

Despite the notable absences of players like Foran, Luke Waerea-Hargreaves and Sonny Bill Williams, coach Stephen Kearney was optimistic about the young team’s chances.

“We’re still very excited by the talent we have available,” Kearney said in a statement.

“Many of these guys have progressed through Junior Kiwis, and into full professional and now international careers.

“There are also some old faces returning and we think this mix will bring a really positive energy to the group.

“This team is an Anzac story in itself – a band of young men thrown together to do whatever it takes to perform for 80 minutes on Friday night.

“We can’t wait.”

Probable Test line-ups