Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1058 ( Monday 14 March 2016 )

MELANESIA

1) MSG Land miting i harim ol sore stori long graon

Updated 10 March 2016, 13:10 AEDT
Sam Seke

Miting blong Melanesian Indigenous Land Defence Alliance wea olketa holem disfala wik long Isabel Province long Solomon Islands, hemi herem sore stori blong olketa kastom landona olketa lusim finis nao graon blong olketa.

Olketa wea stap long disfala miting tu hem olketa blong Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, Vanuatu and Fiji.

Joel Simo blong Land Desk long Vanuatu Cultural  Centre hem se long samfala peles long Vanuatu, olketa tradisinol landona i nao mas askem bifoa olketa go long sanbis long graon we olketa bin onam.

Hem se olketa barava lusim nao evri rait long graon blong olketa long olketa divelopa andanit long samfala kaen sistim we gavman hemi sapotim.

Mr Simo hem se diswan hemi wanfala sore samting, an miting blong Melanesian Indigenous Land Defence Alliance hemi laekem olketa gavman long rijin fo mas stopem.ABC

2) Roll clarification deadline looms in New Caledonia

New Caledonians whose right to vote in the provincial elections is being challenged have until tomorrow to prove that they are entitled to remain on the roll.

Special commissions led by magistates from France have been vetting the roll as concern over its accuracy festers.

Disagreements over how to interpret and enforce the law have left thousands of people on the list who the pro-independence camp says should be struck off.

Voting rights are restricted to long-term residents in line with a French constitutional amendment accompanying the territory’s decolonisation process.

But years have passed without the French state being able to produce a roll beyond reproach, triggering appeals for oversight by the United Nations.

The more than 1,000 still challenged to prove their right to vote have until tomorrow to produce documents showing they had been registered in New Caledonia before 1998.14/3/16 RNZI

3) New church report alleges ‘slow motion genocide’ in West Papua

Allegations of recent Indonesian military and police intimidation, beatings and torture, kidnapping and murder in West Papua, have been documented in a new report.

The Catholic report says Muslims are being radicalised in the once predominantly Christian Papuan provinces, and very active militias are burning down Papuan houses.

The report was compiled by the Brisbane Catholic Justice and Peace Commission’s Shadow Human Rights Fact Finding Mission to West Papua, following a visit last month.

It has not yet been publicly released, nor comment sought from Indonesian authorities.

The report documents religious, social and economic discrimination, including the carving up of land for major developments, which benefit multinationals and exclude Papuans.

It refers to a slow-motion genocide and states that the Indonesians want to replace the Christian religion with Islam.

More than 200 community leaders in Japapura, Merauke, Timika and Sorong were interviewed during the visit.14/3/16 – RNZI

4) Lae assists unemployed

Source:
The National,Monday March 14th, 2016

LAE district is taking an innovative approach to give hope to the unemployed through food security and income generating concepts to alleviate urban poverty and ensure people become productive partners in developing the city.
Opposition leader Don Polye said that current growth in Lae was forcing local landowners and the bulk of the settlement population to the periphery with mostly unskilled people.
As a result, it increases the rate of unemployed youths, women and men wondering aimlessly.
The opposition team comprising Polye (Kandep), Sam Basil (Bulolo), Loujaya Kouza (Lae), Mark Maipakai (Kikori) and William Samb (Goilala) launched the Lae district food security programme last Thursday.
“The city’s industrial growth requires skilled professionals and as a result the unskilled people are left without jobs,” Polye said.
Thus, Kouza and her district development authority have come up with several innovative ideas to provide self-employment for the unemployed population.
“That is basically through food security and income generation including the bridge and build and haus krai concepts.
“The concepts are designed for back yard farming, floriculture and artisan projects to enhance cooperative society groups in order to increase production in the small to medium enterprise sector in Lae.”
Polye said that the novel idea in utilising available food crops such as peanuts, cassava, taro, kaukau, banana, marita (pandanus), rice and coconut including varieties of fruits by transforming and adding value into them at back yards gives hope for livelihoods.
However, this requires government attention to pump money into developing small scale manufacturing factories and mills including training and skills to achieve the reality within 10 years down the line.

POLYNESIA

5) Temaru in Tahiti assembly ceremony stunt

12 March 2016

French Polynesia’s pro-independence politicians, led by Oscar Temaru, have briefly seized the podium of the assembly to unfurl a banner which said ‘Welcome to the National Assembly of Maohi Nui’.

The incident occurred as the assembly was signing to mark the start of its 70th anniversary celebrations.

The assembly president eventually succeeded to regain the podium.

This comes amid moves by France to tweak the territory’s autonomy statute while ignoring the decolonisation process under the auspices of the United Nations.

Mr Temaru is pushing for the territory to regain full independence from France.

His long-term rival, Gaston Flosse, is campaigning for what he calls Tahiti Nui to become an associated state of France.

He said the concept had the full backing of his Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party on all levels and it is expected to be presented in the French National Assembly by the territory’s three members, who all belong to the Taheoraa.RNZI

6) Tokelau tops country domain name list

12 March 2016

Tokelau has the most popular country domain name in the internet.

With more than 31 million addresses using the territory’s .tk registration, Tokelau has now almost twice as many entries as China and Germany which follow in second and third position.

The boom is attributed to Tokelau being one of the countries offering free registration.

The list excludes the domain name .com which is the most popular and the most commonly used in the United States

According to the British site Nominet, there are now 3.2 billion internet users globally – eight times more than in the year 2000.RNZI

7) Cooks parliament yet to meet this year

The clerk of the Cook Islands parliament, John Tangi, says government is not ready yet to call the first sitting of parliament for the year.

This comes amid mounting pressure from the opposition to meet and discuss a range of pending issues.

Mr Tangi told the Cook Islands News he was awaiting confirmation from the Office of the Prime Minister on a date for the opening parliament session of the year.

Two major matters to be raised include the Family Law Bill which is still under consultation and the motorcycle helmet issue.

The prime minister, Henry Puna, told a news conference when parliaments met, it would need to sit for a longer to make sure MPs had sufficient time to deal with important issues.14/3/16 RNZI

8) Many choose to cast votes

Saturday March 12, 2016 Written by Rashneel Kumar Published in Local

A large number of southern and northern group residents turned out to cast their votes in the 2016 local government elections on Thursday.

Rakahanga which only held elections for the mayor’s seat after five of its councillors retained their positions uncontested, recorded a 95 per cent voter turnout followed by 93 per cent in Manihiki and Penrhyn.

Aitutaki, which had the highest number of voters registered for this year’s elections, recorded the lowest turnout of 83 per cent.

Chief electoral officer Taggy Tangimetua said voter turnout was always high in the outer islands.

About 2500 voters were registered in the Pa Enua excluding Palmerston and Nassau which did not hold the elections.

A total of 112 candidates including 88 councillors and 24 mayors (including one from Palmerston) contested the four-yearly elections.

Candidates were vying for 10 mayoral and 56 councillors’ positions on the islands of Aitutaki, Mangaia, Atiu, Mauke, Mitiaro, Penrhyn, Manihiki, Rakahanga and Pukapuka.

“The election went smoothly yesterday and the first result came in just half an hour after the close of the booths,” Tangimetua said.

“There are some changes in the mayor positions on Aitutaki, Mauke, Mitiaro and Penrhyn but this is not the final result.

“We still have votes by declaration to be determined for eligibility and with narrow margins, the result may or may not change. It’s all too premature to say.”

Director of Pa Enua division Otheniel Tangianau said according to preliminary results, 23 new councillors were elected.

Of these, there are four new women councillors, two in Mitiaro and one each on Mangaia and Manihiki. http://www.cookislandsnews.com/national/local/item/57084-many-choose-to-cast-votes

MICRONESIA

9) Guam Visa Crackdown Limits Workers, Could Affect Buildup
Labor dept. confirms high rate of foreign worker petitions

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, March 13, 2016) – Guam’s Department of Labor has confirmed what some of the island’s immigration attorneys have said recently: There’s been an unusually higher rate of denials for H-2B foreign worker petitions.

The problem has come up as Guam’s construction industry faces a challenge meeting labor needs for the military buildup and additional major private-sector projects.

A $180 million hotel project in Tumon Bay recently started, and a project that size is expected to need a few hundred construction workers.

At least two other hotel construction projects and condominium tower project proposals are at various stages of the local government’s approval process.

Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo has recently voiced concern about the H-2B foreign worker visa denials because of a potential shortage of skilled workers for the upcoming construction projects for a Marine Corps base in Guam.

Gov. Eddie Calvo, the local labor department and Bordallo are working together on how to resolve the challenge, the local labor department stated.

The U.S. and Japan governments are jointly picking up an $8 billion tab for the relocation of about 5,000 Marines, plus their dependents, from Okinawa to Guam.

“In consultation with employers, immigration attorneys and other stakeholders, (Guam’s Labor Department) found that there appears to be an unusual increase of denials and seemingly intended denials of H-2B petitions,” the local labor department recently stated, in part.

After further inquiries, the local labor department stated, “this trend towards denials appear to be occurring nationwide.”

The problem also has affected Guam’s only private hospital.

The Guam Regional Medical City opened just last year, and its petitions to renew foreign nurses’ work visas have been denied, Bordallo has stated previously.

H-2B visas are for foreign workers to fill jobs that are temporary in nature, typically lasting from one to three years in duration, according to Greg Massey, administrator of the local Labor Department’s Alien Labor Processing and Certification Division.In some cases, employers’ H-2B visa petitions were denied because they’re hiring for jobs they can’t justify as temporary, according to the local labor department.

In the past, foreign worker hiring for those same jobs weren’t questioned, the labor department stated.

In one instance, a company that already signed up for a construction contract was denied an opportunity to hire 100 H-2B workers, Pacific Daily News files show.

Bordallo wrote on Feb. 26 to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Leon Rodriguez on the issue.

Pacific Daily News

10) Marshalls: New Legislation Would End Offshore Voting
Would impact US-based Marshallese, 30% of total population

By Giff Johnson

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, March 14, 2016) – Two pieces of legislation introduced to parliament in the Marshall Islands last week would, if passed, amend the country’s election law to eliminate voting by postal ballots for Marshall Islanders who live offshore.

With an estimated 30 percent of Marshall Islanders now living in the United States, these offshore votes have determined the outcome of a number of parliament and mayoral contests in the past two national elections.

The new bill, introduced by two cabinet ministers and two senators, focuses on restructuring the postal ballot section of the law so that the use of postal ballots would be limited to Marshall Islands residents who are temporarily off-island during an election or a local resident who is confined to the hospital or home by sickness.

Postal ballots from these individuals would need to be mailed to the electoral administration prior to election day. The current provision allowing citizens who “reside outside of the republic” to vote and the provision allowing postal ballots to arrive up to 14 days after election day would be eliminated by this bill.

The four members of parliament introducing the legislation said the objective is to “allow Marshallese citizens who are tax-payers and residing in the islands to determine the person or persons to represent them,” as well as to eliminate postal affidavits to avoid fraud, expedite tabulation of ballots, and reduce the expenses of running the vote. It was introduced by Foreign Minister John Silk, Education Minister Wilbur Heine, and Sens. Maynard Alfred and David Kramer.

Another bill introduced by six senators aims to amend candidate registration requirements as well as the period government employees must take leave prior to an election. Deleted are requirements that a candidate “possess traditional land rights and have either a mother or a father of Marshallese descent.”

Responding to what happened in the lead up 2015 national election, when government employees were required to take over 13 months off from work to stand for parliament — a departure from the tradition of three decades of a three-month leave period — the amendments propose that the leave requirement will be linked to the filing deadline for candidate nomination papers, which will be three months prior to the election.

These bills are currently being considered by the parliament, which is scheduled to recess this Friday until its second session of the year, which begins in August.

Marianas Variety Guam

11) Taneti Maamau declared new president of Kiribati

Published: 11 March 2016

RNZI: Kiribati’s Chief Justice Sir John Muria has officially declared Taneti Maamau as the new president of Kiribati.

In a nationwide live declaration, Sir Muria confirmed this after the counting of votes from yesterday’s Presidential election, declaring Mr Maamau the president after he won a majority of votes at nearly 20,000.

An Air Kiribati special flight is heading to Onotoa Island to pick up President elect Taneti Maamau and bring him to the capital to receive the Presidential seal.

At 2pm today, the President elect will be at the country’s State House to attend a ceremonial handing over of the seal by his predecessor and former president Anote Tong.

Meanwhile, the official swearing in ceremony will take place Friday 11 March at the Kiribati Parliament House in Ambo.

The declaration means the the BTK party 12 year reign under former President Anote Tong finally comes to end.

Mr Maamau is the fifth president since the country became independent in 1979.

Our correspondent in Tarawa Roz Terubea said the result also sets the stage for an interesting government formation period.

Mr Terubea said the majority of newly elected MPs had sided with candidates from the former ruling BTK party in the lead up to the presidential elections.

“It is pretty much a very exciting commotion that will happen in the upcoming, leading up to the next, the first meeting in parliament. Because there might be some shift or other party members might break rank to join the new party that is now ruling, that has just won the election. Who knows?”
New coalition celebrates

Members of the new ruling coalition celebrating the election of their presidential candidate said the result was a cry for change from the people.

A senior member of the coalition and a former president, Teburoro Tito, said ending the outgoing TBK party’s 12-year reign was a positive step.

“This is a milestone achievement for the people of Kiribati being able to determine their future after being served by a 12-year-old administration which has been trying to keep on to power. We can now move one step or several steps ahead as a result of this achievement.”

The official swearing in ceremony will take place on Friday at the Kiribati Parliament House.

– RNZI

12) Nauru opposition calls for early election observers

Two former Nauru presidents have appealed to the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Pacific Islands Forum to begin early monitoring of the island’s elections.

Marcus Stephen and Sprent Dabwido have written to the two organisations on behalf of the opposition.

They say they fear the government is abusing its office for the deliberate manipulation of the election, which is expected to be held in the middle of the year.

In letters to the two organisations, assistance was sought in addressing what was called ‘the breakdown of democracy, good governance, freedom of speech, rule of law and separation of powers.’

The government has invited both organisations to act as observers.

But the letters ask that observers be sent to Nauru in advance of the poll.

They claim the government has introduced barriers for potential candidates which would unfairly alter the outcome.

In February, the government, which dominates parliament having suspended most of the opposition, ruled that public servants wanting to stand had to resign three months before the poll.

The government also hiked candidacy fees 20-fold and increased charges for voters wanting to move electorates.14/3/16 – RNZI

13) http://www.saipantribune.com/index.php/docomo-lay-new-undersea-fiber-optic-cable/

14) http://www.saipantribune.com/index.php/gender-parity-really/

TOK PISIN

15) West Papua pipal long Port Moresby ino gat ples

Updated 11 March 2016, 15:33 AEDT

Caroline Tiriman

Tupla lida blong West Papua Communiti long Port Moresby long Papua New Guinea i mekim bikpla askim igo long National gavman long salim ol igo long narapla kantri bihaen long kot i tok oli mas lusim ples blong ol long Hohola, wanpla suburb long sity.

Samting olsem 57 ol pipal isave stap long despla ples em oli tok i ples blong ol long 22 yiar nau.

Despla tingting blong National Kot i min olsem klostu nau na bai oli fosim ol despla femilies long lusim ol haus blong ol.

Planti long ol despla West Papua pipal ibin ronowei lusim ol mama graon blong ol bihaenim ol heve blong wok politik aninit long ol wok lukaut blong Indonesia.

Ol despla West Papua pipal itok oli wari tru long wonem oli no save bai oli go we nau, olsem na oli askim strong National gavman long painim narapla kantri we oli ken go long en sopos PNG ino laikim ol.

Tupla long ol despla lida em iet long Donatus Karuri na John Anare, itok oli wari tru long wonem oli no save bai oli go we sopos oli rausim ol tru tru long ples em oli stap long en nau.

Oli tok tu olsem oli wari long wonem PNG gavman i helpim ol asylum sika blong ol narapla kantri em oli stap long Manus Island na gavman i no kia tumas long ol West Papua pipal.ABC

16) Australia na New Zealand bai ol Bougainville pipal long kakao

Updated 10 March 2016, 13:16 AEDT
Caroline Tiriman

Ol pipal blong Bougainville klostu nau bai kisim bikpla halvim ikam long Australia na New Zealand long growim na kamapim gut ken Cocoa industry we emi bin bagarap long planti yiar nau.

Despla halvim bai kam aninit long wanpla projek em oli kolim Commodity Support Facility em ol gavman blong Australia, New Zealand na Autonomous Bougainville Gavman i wokbung long en.

As tingting blong despla wokbung em blong helpim ol pipal i iusim sampla moni blong luksave na strongim agrikalsa, treining na ol wok painimaut oa research long Bougainville.

Pastem long bikpla trabal oa Crisis, ol pipal blong Bougainville isave bin go pas long ol narapla ples long Papua New Guinea long growim Cocoa, tasol crisis ibin bagarapim despla Cocoa industry.

Thomas Betitis, Secretary blong  Bougainville’s Department of Primary Industries, itok ol pipal i hamamas long kisim despla kaen halvim. ABC

FRENCH

17) Brèves du Pacifique – samedi 12 mars 2016

Posté à 12 March 2016, 21:09 AEDT

Caroline Lafargue

a) Les Samoa américaines poursuivent en justice le gouvernement fédéral américain devant un tribunal à Hawaï. 

Objectif: faire annuler une mesure qui autorise les grands thoniers américains à pêcher plus près des côtes des Samoa américaines. La plainte a été déposée hier. Le service des pêcheries américain a décidé de laisser les bateaux-usines s’approcher jusqu’à 18 km des côtes, alors qu’avant, la limite était à 80km. La zone proche du littoral était jusqu’alors réservée aux pêcheurs samoans américains. Le gouvernement des Samoa américaines estiment que le service des pêcheries fédéral a pris une « décision arbitraire ».
b)  Aux Samoa voisines, 8 jours après les élections générales, les résultats définitifs ont été publiés samedi. C’est une déferlante HRPP. Le parti de protection des droits de l’homme remporte 47 des 49 sièges du Parlement. Les deux sièges restants sont occupés par deux rescapés du principal parti d’opposition, le Tautua Samoa. Ces élections marquent néanmoins un certain renouvellement de la classe politique, car 5 ministres, 8 ministres associés et le vice-Speaker du Parlement, tous membres du HRPP, ont été battus. Pour la première fois cette année, un quota de 5 femmes était imposé. En l’occurrence, seules 4 ont été élues, il faut donc créer un cinquième siège pour une cinquième femme, ce qui porte à 50 le nombre de députés au Parlement. L’une d’entre elles sera vraisemblablement vice-Première ministre. Et c’est Tuilaeapa Sailele qui devrait être réélu Premier ministre. La priorité du nouveau gouvernement sera l’adaptation des Samoa aux changements climatiques.
c) Fidji: Winston a fait un 44ème mort. Il s’agit d’une femme de l’île de Koro, la plus touché, qui était hospitalisée depuis plusieurs semaines, après le passage du cyclone le 7 février. On n’en sait pas plus pour l’instant sur les circonstances de sa mort. Parallèlement, il reste encore plus de 14 000 Fidjiens dans plus de 470 centres d’évacuation. Julie Bishop, la ministre australienne des Affaires étrangères ira aux Fidji demain, pour rencontrer le Premier ministre, Franck Bainimarama et se rendre compte de l’effort de reconstruction en cours dans le pays. En tout, l’Australie a promis de débloquer 15 millions de dollars pour les Fidjiens.
e) Nauru: il faut être riche pour arriver au pouvoir. Jeudi, le Parlement local a voté une loi controversée. Elle impose un droit d’inscription de 2000 dollars pour les candidats aux prochaines élections. C’est une augmentation spectaculaire, puisque jusqu’à présent les candidats devaient payer seulement 100 dollars. D’après Roland Kun, un député d’opposition, c’est une mesures destinée à réduire le nombre d’opposants. Le gouvernement, lui, se refuse à tout commentaire. La date n’a pas encore été arrêtée, mais le scrutin devrait se tenir autour de juin.
f) Et puis Tokelau, numéro 1 mondial du nom de domaine, devant la Chine et l’Allemagne. Le petit archipel administré par la Nouvelle-Zélande offre son nom de domaine gratuitement. Résultat: plus de 31 millions d’adresses de sites Internet se terminent par “.tk”.
ABC
AUSTRALIA

18) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-03-13/antiislam-party-australian-liberty-alliance-says-members-vilified-labelled-bigots/1558186
19) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-03-13/rural-patients-waiting-up-to-eight-weeks-to-see-a-gp-doctors-use-new-methods-to-provide-care/1558116

20) WA fires: Blaze threatens lives, homes at Meelon, south of Perth

Updated 14 March 2016, 12:55 AEDT

A fire is threatening lives and homes in north eastern Meelon in the Shire of Murray, south of Perth, with authorities warning residents to act immediately to survive.

Smoke billowing from the fire which is threatening lives and homes in north eastern Meelon. (Credit: ABC licensed)

A fire is threatening lives and homes in north eastern Meelon in the Shire of Murray, south of Perth.

The blaze is burning in bushland north of Pinjarra-Williams Road between Burnside Road and Scarp Road, and an emergency warning has been issued.

Residents are being urged to act immediately to survive, with fears homes near Pinjarra Road and the rail crossings could be affected in under an hour.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) said the fire was moving fast in a south-westerly direction. It was out of control and unpredictable.

DFES said if the way was clear, residents living east of the rail crossings on Pinjarra-Williams Road could leave in an easterly direction.

Those living west of the crossings could leave in a westerly direction.

Meanwhile, a bushfire watch and act has been issued for people in Meelon and Teesdale, west of Dwellingup, in an area bounded by Scarp and Burnside roads and Coolup Road East including Valley View Road.

DFES said there was a possible threat to lives and homes in this area and people should act immediately.ABC

NEW ZEALAND

21) NZ To Provide $50 Million To Tonga Over Three Years
Aid targets energy, law and justice, education, economic development

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, March 10, 2016) – As an outcome of consultations completed in Tonga today, New Zealand’s future development assistance to Tonga will be focused on energy, law and justice, education and skills development, and economic development.

New Zealand’s Deputy Secretary for International Development, Jonathan Kings, visited Tonga March 9-10 to participate in high level consultations with the Government of Tonga on New Zealand’s development assistance to the Kingdom.

In a statement, he said that New Zealand anticipates investing approximately TOP$112 million (NZD$75 million) [US$50 million] in development assistance to Tonga over the next three years.

Mr Kings stated that the discussions had been constructive and New Zealand remains a long-standing and close partner of Tonga. “It is pleasing to see the results that New Zealand assistance is bringing to Tonga, particularly in the areas of energy and law and justice.”

Tonga’s Minister of Finance, Hon. ‘Aisake Eke, welcomed the opportunity to reconvene high level dialogue on development assistance with the New Zealand Government, “and to consider Tonga’s priorities of education, renewable energy and economic governance.”

The New Zealand Aid Programme is currently supporting Tonga Power Ltd. to upgrade the village electricity network on Tongatapu, and has funded new police stations, search and rescue boats and police training. New Zealand also supports the Tonga courts and has reconstructed schools in Ha‘apai following Cyclone Ian.

A detailed strategy for New Zealand’s support will be formally agreed between New Zealand and Tonga later this year.

Matangi Tonga Magazine

PACIFIC

22) American Samoa takes legal action to overturn fishing rule

American Samoa has filed a case asking the United States federal court to overturn a ruling allowing large scale commercial fishing closer to its coast.

Last month, the US National Marine Fisheries Service reduced what is known as the Large Vessel Protected Area around the territory from 80 kilometres to 18 kilometres.

Our correspondent in Pago Pago, Monica Miller, said that area had previously been reserved for local alia fishing vessels.

She said the government wanted that overturned, saying the ruling contravened the Deeds of Cession that incorporated American Samoa into the United States.

“There is language in there that says that the United States agrees and gives assurance that resources — land and water — will be reserved for the people of American Samoa. So the government says the rule change is contrary to what’s inside the Deeds of Cession.”

Monica Miller said the case, being heard in Hawaii, was likely to take a few months.RNZI  14/3/16

23) US helping to find fisheries resolution

Source:
The National,Friday March 11th, 2016

THE United States had been communicating with Pacific Island party representatives and consulting with US industry to help facilitate a resolution to the impasse over fishing access this year.
The United States Embassy in Port Moresby said this in a statement yesterday.
The embassy was responding to a query by The National regarding the United States’ withdrawal from the fisheries treaty in January.
“Thanks to cooperation and compromise on both sides, we finalised revised terms of access for 2016,” the embassy said in a statement.
“United States industry is responsible for making full and timely quarterly payments according to the revised terms in order to receive and maintain licenses from the Pacific Island parties to fish in the Treaty area for the rest of the year.
“We now look forward to focusing on the important discussions about whether the Treaty can be restructured and maintained in a way that is mutually acceptable and continues to provide benefits to both sides over the long term.”

24) Solomon Islands to host 2016 Pacific Islands Development Forum Summit
5:05 pm GMT+12, 13/03/2016, Fiji

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has accepted a proposal by the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) Secretariat for Solomon Islands to host the organisation’s fourth summit this year.

The acceptance was communicated in a meeting between the Prime Minister and the PIDF Director-General, Francois Martel in Suva, Fiji last Friday during his MSG Capitals’ tour.

Martel requested the meeting to update the Prime Minister about new developments of the PIDF since its last summit in the Fiji Capital in September 2015 and also to put forward to him the proposal for the Solomon Islands Government to play host to the 2016 PIDF Summit.

He said Fiji has hosted the first three summits since the inception of the PIDF in 2013 and the secretariat feels that the summit hosting responsibility be taken on by other PIDF member countries to reflect their inclusivity and also the growing recognition of the PIDF as an international organisation.

Elaborating on PIDF’s growing recognition as an international organisation, Martel said the organisation has been registered with the United Nations as an international organisation and is in the process of also obtaining observer status of the world body.

Furthermore, he said he met with the New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully and he agreed that New Zealand can work in collaboration with the PIDF through the Pacific Islands Forum and for Tokelau-a New Zealand territory of atolls in the Pacific- to become a member of the PIDF.

He also said since the last PIDF summit, the organisation (PIDF) has gained two new members and they are the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organisations (PIANGO) and Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO), which also brings with it 15 umbrella non-governmental organisations in its 15 member countries. The two new additions have raised the overall membership of the PIDF to 11.

The member states of the PIDF include Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Prime Minister Sogavare welcomed the positive developments made by the PIDF Secretariat in its bid to gain international recognition for the PIDF.

He said he believes in the PIDF and the MSG and their objectives and that these objectives can only be achieved through cooperation by member countries.

Prime Minister Sogavare said he welcomes the proposal by the PIDF Secretariat for the Solomon Islands Government to host the organisation’s fourth summit and he will send an official letter confirming his acceptance of the proposal in due course.

The PIDF was established in 2013 with the objective of driving transformative changes through national, regional and international frameworks by focusing on the sustainable and inclusive development of pacific islands.

SOURCE: SIG/PACNEWS

ASIA

25) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-03-13/chinas-weakening-economy-disappoints-again-as-central-bank-moves-to-calm-growth-fears/1558196

26) China pledges $15 million in relief supplies to Fiji
5:11 pm GMT+12, 13/03/2016, Fiji

The Chinese Government, through its embassy in Suva, has pledged FJD$15 million (US$7 million) worth of relief items to the Fijian Government as it ramps up relief support for affected Fijians following Tropical Cyclone Winston.

After an initial donation of US$1 million, the Chinese Government has confirmed that eight (8) incoming flights of relief essentials will land at the Nadi and Nausori International Airports beginning on the 17 March, 2016.

In a meeting this week between the Permanent Secretary for Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, Meleti Bainimarama and the Chinese Embassy Charge d’Affaires GU Yu, discussions included the Chinese Government’s commitment to continue assisting Fijians to rebuild their lives, their homes and their properties.

GU said, “We carefully studied the demands of the people in need so that our response could be effective”.

“Accordingly, amongst our relief supplies are 6,000 tents that can be used as temporary shelter for families and also classrooms for small groups of students.”

In response, Bainimarama thanked the Chinese Government for its support and conveyed the Fijian Government’s and the Fijian people’s appreciation to the people of China.

The list of items pledged by the Chinese Government includes:

6,000 tents, 5,8000 waterproof canvases, 15,500 blankets, 15,500 pillows with pillowslips, 135,000 first aid kits, 60 portable diesel generator, 60 portable gasoline generators, 5,040 torches (all-matel flashlight) with alkaline batteries,5,000 (Led dynamo flashlight) and 45,000 bottles of water purification tablets.

Meanwhile, Assistant Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, Joeli Cawaki Saturday received 81 tonnes of Relief Supplies from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The batch of supplies, which arrived on 12 trucks in Suva from IOM’s Global Administrative Centre in the Philippines, consist of shelter kits that contain tarpaulins, tools, and fixings, and also communal tents, solar lanterns, street lights, mosquito nets, handsaws, and hygiene kits.

In handing over the supplies, Arieta Moceica, IOM’s head of office in Fiji, expressed the sympathies and condolences of the IOM family to the people of Fiji for the losses suffered and reassured the Fijian Government of IOM’s solidarity in standing with the Fijian people to build back safer, better, and stronger.

Moceica said, “The Fijian Government has identified shelter at the top of its priorities and IOM has responded accordingly to ensure that there are shelters to support Government in its building back.”

“IOM is here to stay and work alongside Government to find durable solutions for those who have been temporarily relocated as a result of the tropical cyclone.”

“On behalf of the Director General [of IOM] I wish to express the deepest gratitude of the IOM family to the Fijian Government for allowing IOM to come in, set up and partner with Government in a very meaningful way.”

In response, Cawaki thanked IOM on behalf of the Fijian Government and the people for the contribution made and its continued general support.

“We will ensure that it reaches the people that need it the most, especially those in the rural interior and maritime islands. Be assured that the Fijian Government will continue to partner with you in this relief and recovery period and ultimately the rehabilitation phase.”

The relief supplies are valued at around $275,000.00 (US$130,045)

SOURCE: DINFO/PACNEWS

WORLD

27) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-03-13/us-election-marco-rubio-and-ted-cruz-defeat-donald-trump-in-washington-and-wyoming-republican-contes/1558260

28) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-03-14/what-the-recovering-us-economy-means-for-australia/1558424

29)
http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-03-14/german-chancellor-angela-merkels-cdu-party-hammered-in-regional-elections/1558352

HEALTH

30) SPC calls for more education on Zika sexual transmission

The Pacific Community says the region needs to step up education efforts on the risks of sexual transmission of the Zika virus.

Last week, the World Health Organisation new research has strengthened the link between Zika and foetal abnormalities, and sexual transmission of the virus is more common than previously thought.

The acting deputy director for public health at the Pacific Community, formerly the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Dr Salanieta Saketa, said there needed to be more awareness about sexual transmission.

“That’s a real worry, concern for Pacific island countries. Particularly in the sense that a lot of countries have young populations who are sexually active, and so we need to increase communication.”

The WHO has upped its travel advisory, saying pregnant women should not to travel to areas of ongoing Zika outbreaks.

It is also advising pregnant women who have sexual partners who live in or travel to areas with Zika outbreaks to practise safe sex or abstain from sex during pregnancy.14/3/16 RNZI

31) Dept tries to upgrade health training for professionals

Source:
The National,Friday March 11th, 2016

MEDICAL services need to be delivered by registered, motivated and respected health care professionals, Health Secretary Pascoe Kase says.
He said the department was working with training providers and significant investments were being made to upgrade training facilities across the country.
He said this was necessary to be able to increase the number of health professionals being trained.
“This was a principal element of the department’s ‘Workforce Enhancement Plan’ which was entering its second year of implementation,” he said.
Kase said a strong programme of capital works had delivered much needed improvements in infrastructure. This included upgrades at the Lae School of Nursing, the Mendi School of Nursing, St Barnabas College in Milne Bay and the Pacific Adventist University in NCD.
Kase said there were three important roles that the Nursing Council and its valuable staff were required to undertake.
He said these roles were essential in ensuring the delivery of quality nursing services, which the community could depend on and trust.
“The first of these was to ensure that the training facilities were using an approved and accepted curriculum to train students,” he said.
“This is assured by the very important role of review and accreditation of training providers.”

32) Smoker kicked out of public bus

Published: 12 March 2016

AN ill-mannered smoker was kicked out of a public bus this week after fellow passengers bitterly complained to the driver and his conductor.

The Solomon Star was told the male passenger was smoking his cigarette when he entered the bus heading from the eastern side into the city.

Passengers in the bus voiced their dissatisfaction to the smoker and politely told him to extinguish his cigarette.

The smoker refused to take heed and an argument ensued.

The driver stopped the bus and ordered the smoker out to wait for another bus.

The driver told the passenger that he too is a smoker, but he cannot smoke in the presence of non-smokers.

The 2010 Tobacco Control Act prohibits smoking in public premises.

By BIRIAU WILSON SAENI/Solomon Star

EDUCATION

33) Focus on your studies, students told

Source:
The National,Friday March 11th, 2016

SOLOMON Islands students studying in PNG should focus on their studies and get acquainted with regulations and rules of institutions, says Solomon Islands High Commissioner Barnabas Anga (pictured).
Anga call was in response to The National’s story on Wednesday regarding Solomon Islands student Collin Leafaisa’s eviction by the University of PNG administration for being drunk at the Pacific Games Village.
“The (Solomon Islands) students must realise that they are sponsored students and we are using taxpayers’ money to advance their aims,” Anga told The National yesterday.
Anga said Leafaisa was sponsored by the Solomon Islands government and that he was informed of Leafaisa’s eviction from the Games Village through the education attaché’s office.
“It is indeed an unfortunate situation being a student, but we fully respect the rules and regulations of the university.” Anga said.
“What we will do know is to basically try and get in touch with the administration of the university and see how we can amicably resolve the situation. We will await the decision of the disciplinary committee … We have our own process to respond to such incidences and cases.”
Anga said the high commission would refer the matter to the Minister for Education and the National Training Committee to decide on Leafaisa’s scholarship.
He said it was important that Solomon Islands students respected and contributed positively from the government’s investment into scholarships. There was provision of SI$16 million (K6.3 million) in the government’s annual budget to sponsor Solomon Islands students to study in other countries, including PNG.

POLITIC

34) Somare calls it a day

Rnzi
Monday, March 14, 2016

PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Papua New Guinea’s first prime minister, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, has announced he is retiring from politics.

Sir Michael, who turns 80 next month, told the newspaper, The National, he would not contest next year’s elections.

The MP for East Sepik says he has completed his task and it is time for a new generation to carry on.

Sir Michael was the country’s first prime minister from 1975 until 1980, then again from 1982 to 1985, and from 2002 to 2011.

Patrick Pruaitch will take over as the leader of the National Alliance Party.

35) Minister: State failed to utilise New Ireland

Source:
The National,Friday March 11th, 2016

New Ireland has resources that the Government has failed to tap into, says People’s Progress Party leader and Kavieng MP Ben Micah.
Micah said that was why autonomy was the way to go for the province.
He said outstanding MOU funds from the Lihir mine due to the provincial government and landowners “have been outstanding for many, many years”.
“According to New Ireland provincial government calculation, it is close to K700 million,” Micah said.
He said autonomy was now the focus of many New Irelanders.
“With autonomy, we can maximise the benefits from our resource assets,” Micah said.
“We want to have more say and control over the Mogado Square (main tuna nursery grounds in the Western Pacific).
“That is a lucrative fishing ground and today New Ireland is getting nothing while the Government is allowing foreign fleets to come and fish there.”
Micah said there was also huge untapped potential for tourism in New Ireland and the Government was turning a blind eye to this.
“All they (Government)  talk about is Tokua and Kokopo (in East New Britain),” he said.
“What are Tokua and Kokopo?
“In New Ireland you’ve got 800km of road. We’ve got islands.
“Connecting into Manus, we can build a big platform there for tourism, from Wuvulu Island to Musau to us, to Micronesia and connect on to Bougainville and Solomon Islands.”

36) Parties join for 2017 elections

Source:
The National,Friday March 11th, 2016

By MALUM NALU
Three political parties have agreed to join forces in New Ireland as the countdown to the 2017 general election begins.
The People’s Progress Party, Pangu and Melanesian Alliance agreed in Kavieng on Wednesday to work together in an effort to form the next government.
Kavieng MP and People’s Progress Party leader Ben Micah, who spearheaded the gathering, said it was done with the interest of the New Ireland people.
“The merger is of all the party supporters at the provincial and district level,” he said yesterday.
“It’s a very significant move which I believe will reshape the political landscape of New Ireland.
“The leaders of all these groups have agreed that future politics should not be personality-focused but issue-focused.”
Micah said New Ireland had a small population of about 180,000 with vast resources, but could make up for this by being “smart”.
“Being smart means to recognise that factionalising a small population only creates disharmony, disunity,” he said.

LAND

37) Concern on land issues

Source:
The National,Monday March 14th, 2016

MOROBE Governor Kelly Naru says illegal land grabbing and unnecessary occupants of customary have created a lot of problems and that will be soon dealt with through the public-private landowner partnership (PPLOP) method in the province.
Naru said due to a lack of partnership the customary landowners have involved in selling their land portions so cheaply over the years without screening occupants which today resulted in uncontrolled activities.
“A lot of issues will still occur if there is no control over the land,” Naru said.
“The customary landowners will have to go through incorporated land group stages in order for any institutions or organisations to legally recognise them to be involved in partnership arrangements.
“The partnership will see customary landowners have control over their land with terms and conditions applicable on occupants to and when occupants breach conditions then they face the consequences.
“It is a reality that land shortage is occurring in Lae yet landowners are selling their land portions either in a recognised or unrecognised manner to have income in sustaining their living which is a contributing factor to ethnic clashes.
“The land partnership deal in the province will go through to reach the 20 per cent target set by the  Government to acquire customary land.”
Naru made this remarks in response to concerns raised over land shortage and ethnic clashes in the city that caused a lot of deaths and damages to property.
He said the partnership would see participation by the customary landowners.
Naru said the process would become effective next month.

MEDIA

38a ) Plans for network

Pacnews
Monday, March 14, 2016

PORT MORESBY – Following the January acquisition of Media Niugini Ltd (MNL), EMTV’s parent company chairman for the Telikom group, Mahesh Patel, discussed the diverse plans the state-owned enterprise (SOE) has in store for the media company.

A month after taking ownership of Media Niugini Ltd from Fijian Holdings Ltd, the Telikom group has been busy focusing on formulating strategic plans for a network of synergies.

Mr Patel elaborated on the company’s plans to position MNL to expand coverage across Papua New Guinea as well as the transition from analogue to digital technology platforms.

“Papua New Guinea needs EMTV. It is the most reliable, mass market communication medium and source of information and infotainment,” he said.

“Our vision is for Telikom to be able to deliver television and video content to customers through the fixed and mobile broadband network across the country, thus being able to deliver a triple-play of voice, data and content from a single provider, cost effectively.”

The SOE’s purchase of MNL will allow synergies between the two companies to work towards augmenting service offerings, giving EMTV viewers and Telikom customer’s new and diverse experiences.

These include Telikom towers being used to expand EMTV coverage to parts of PNG that could not be viable in the past.

According to Mr Patel, Telikom and MNL now had a workforce with skill sets and capabilities, which allow both companies to source and share these resources without the need to outsource.

38b) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-03-14/four-corners-arrests-julie-bishop-says-high-commissioner-in-malaysia-in-contact-with-abc-crew/1558428

BUSINESS

39) Vanuatu opts for an increase in tourists from China

9:19 pm GMT+12, 13/03/2016, Vanuatu

Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas says he wants to see more tourists from China coming to Vanuatu.

His ambitions were made known to the visiting Chinese deputy minister of the International Department of Chinese Communist Party, Guo Zezhou, when he made a courtesy call on his office in Port Vila on Saturday.

It was during the course of their discussion that Prime Minister Salwai gave an overview of how Vanuatu’s formal economy is dominated by the tourism industry and agriculture sector and spoke of his ambition to advance Vanuatu’s international airport to cater for direct long-haul flights that will bring in more tourists from China.

“During my term as prime minister, I want to see more tourists from China visiting our country and I want to see an improvement in relations in this sector, particularly in areas where China could boost its assistance in the areas of civil aviation and infrastructure,” Prime Minister Salwai told the visiting Chinese minister.

The office of the Prime Minister says visiting Chinese dignitary was also interested in the recent political developments in Vanuatu that led to Salwai Tabimasmas’ election as prime minister.

When he was asked how he managed to convince a large number of political parties to work with, Salwai said that resembles with the notion of change made through the people’s choice when they elected two-third of 52 MPs who are new in the current 11th legislature.

“We had a snap election and now political parties have to make sacrifice and forgiveness for the sake of unity of the people of Vanuatu”, he said.

He told the CCP minister that the formation of his grand coalition was unexpected but what is now important is to focus on challenges such as political instability and tax reforms.

Salwai Tabimasmas, also briefed Minister Guo, among other issues, on the 100-Day Plan of his coalition government, saying it includes constitutional reforms which are aimed at increasing government ministries and addressing the issue of political instability.

In his brief response, Guo said the scenic beauty of Vanuatu and the natural well-being of the people of Vanuatu alone are already convincing enough to attract tourists from China. Therefore, he agrees that Vanuatu and China should facilitate air transportation between the two countries.

The office of the prime minister says the CCP minister concluded with an invitation for the prime minister and his RMC members of parliament, as well as leaders from other political parties, both in the government and the opposition, to visit China.

SOURCE: VANUATU LOOP/PACNEWS

40) Fijis Central bank monitors GDP growth, solid platform to recover
5:12 pm GMT+12, 13/03/2016, Fiji

Preliminary assessment by Fiji’s Central bank on the macroeconomic impact of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston shows an expected downward revision to this year’s gross domestic product growth from the earlier forecast of 3.5 per cent on account of lower output in the agriculture and a number of other sectors.

The Reserve Bank of Fiji said it saw increased repairs and reconstruction spending by Government and the private sector, and a widening in the trade deficit from lower exports and higher imports.

It states inflation is expected to rise temporarily because of the anticipated shortages in agricultural market items.

“Foreign reserves are forecast to decline slightly, although remaining adequate, supported by inflows from grant assistance, higher inward remittances and a likely swift recovery in tourist arrivals.”

Notwithstanding the negative impact of Severe TC Winston, the bank said it was sure that the Fiji economy would remain positive.

The estimated growth for Fiji last year was 4 per cent.

Meanwhile, Fiji’s firm macroeconomic fundamentals prior to the cyclone and the expected stable near-term economic outlook provide a solid platform for the economy to recover quite quickly.

Added to this is the fact that the country’s core tourism, industrial and large commercial centres remained relatively unscathed by Severe TC Winston.

As such, the central bank says, while growth this year is projected to be lower than earlier forecast, it will remain positive, with major added impetus from reconstruction and rehabilitation activity.

The tourism industry, which has recorded positive arrivals growth in January and February this year, is expected to pick up pace in the upcoming peak season period.

“The tourism industry has activated TAG (Tourism Action Group) with the goal to ‘reassure’ our key tourism markets that the major tourism regions are fully operational and open for business,” the Reserve Bank of Fiji said.

“Special air fares and hotel packages were launched last week in the major markets to stimulate arrivals.”

The bank says special response from Fijians abroad as well as the country’s international friends and family will likely boost remittance inflows significantly this year.

Initial forecasts suggest that these flows will easily surpass the record $492million (US$232 million) received last year.

Overall, RBF said, this year’s economic outlook remained positive although risks associated with a slowing global economy and further natural catastrophes remained.

“The overall reaction and response to the crisis brought about by Severe TC Winston has been swift and almost unprecedented for Fiji.

“It will go a long way in helping the economy recover quickly,” the central bank said.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

41) ‘The Making of Tanna – The story behind the film that stole our hearts’, by Patricia Gil Garcia,
Island Life (Vanuatu), 4th March 2016 :

www.islandlifemag.com/island-life-magazine/tanna_movie/

INFRASTRUCTURE

42) $80m for new design

Losalini Bolatagici
Monday, March 14, 2016

THE Fiji Roads Authority (FRA) has identified transport infrastructure that need new designs to improve resilience against future cyclone events — this at an estimated cost of $80million.

FRA maintenance works manager Aram Goes said more than five bridges, 26 crossings and eight jetties had been identified as requiring more permanent repairs in the wake of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston.

However, this will take several years to complete.

FRA’s total damage bill after preliminary assessment is estimated at $135m.

He also noted road washout and landslide restoration works, including up to 50km of coastal roads on Vanua Levu, Taveuni, Koro and Vanuabalavu, were broadly estimated to cost $40m.

According to Mr Goes, urgent immediate land and sea access was estimated about $15million.

The costing was for clearing of roads from debris and fallen powerlines, which took them 14 days and 10 days to restore damaged jetties around the country.

He said of the 7500km of FRA’s road network, up to 2000km had to be painstakingly cleared of fallen trees and debris during hazardous conditions, surrounded by fallen (and in many cases still live) powerlines.

“This includes the ongoing works in progress to clear out road drains from remaining tree debris and re-gravel roads weakened by the storm.”Fijitimes

43) Major Infrastructure Projects In PNG Continue Despite Economy
$9.6 billion worth of construction ‘still in full swing’


By Gorethy Kenneth

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, March 11, 2016) – The Government’s estimated K30 billion [US$9.6 billion] major projects being carried out since 2013 under the Public Investment Program are still in full swing.

This is despite the current challenges facing the world economy, the acknowledged recovery remains are too weak and uneven, and are the recognised downside risks which Papua New Guinea is also facing.

Some of the projects include the K500 million [US$160 million] Gerehu General Hospital, the K500 million [US$160 million] Mount Hagen General Hospital, the K200 million [US$64 million] Angau Hospital, K40 million [US$13 million] Aitape wharf, the K300 million [US$96 million] Port Moresby Sewerage, the K200 million [US$64 million] Enga Hospital, the K200 million [US$64 million] Duran Farm, the K100 million [US$32 million] Mount Hagen Roads and Sewerage, the phase two of Mirigini House at K20 million and the Western Pacific University.

Other major Government major projects under the PIP program include the ongoing Highlands Highway Upgrade, the completed Lae Port Development Project, the Lae City Roads, POM City Roads, the National Broadband Network and the successful 2015 South Pacific Games and its venues.

The Central Supply and Tenders Board was asked to detail the other major projects that are currently under scrutiny this year which includes the K600 million National Court House but chairman Phillip Eledume could not detail the latter. However, he added that for the major Court House project, the process was complete and was before the National Executive Council.

Post Courier has been reliably informed that the PIP, aimed at ensuring that high quality investments were completed within a set time period and delivered on their intended outcomes and impacts.

These projects under the PIP program lay a foundation through the first of five successive Budgets to “Grow PNG’s Future” sustainably and our Government recognises the responsibility of beginning to invest in a truly sustainable future and this details the key investment priorities of the O’Neill-led Government to effectively implement the Alotau Accord, and achieve the targets in the MTDP and PNGDSP to achieve middle income country status by 2030.

PNG Post-Courier

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION

44) Fiji’s cyclone death toll rises to 44

12 March 2016

Authorities in Fiji say a woman from Koro Island has become the latest victim of Tropical Cyclone Winston, bringing the death toll to 44.

The National Disaster Management Office director Akapusi Tuifagalele told FBC News the woman had been hospitalised for a while.

Mr Tuifagalele said he didn’t have the details about the cause of her death or the type of injuries she sustained during the cyclone.

He said some evacuation centres had closed, but more than 14,000 people across the country were still at more than 470 centres.

NZ defence force helping rebuild Fiji schools

New Zealand defence force personnel in Fiji helping in the aftermath of Cyclone Winston are concentrating their efforts on rebuilding schools.

Some of engineers, drivers and medical personnel have been in the worst hit part of northern Viti Levu, but most of the personnel are in the Lau group to help out on the many small islands devastated last month.

Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces, who visited Fiji this week, said one priority had been to re-open schools.

“Salana School which was very badly damaged which is a major High School and was considered a priority by the Fijian government to get up and running, and that school has been completely re-roofed and I understand it is going to open on Monday.”

Australia’s Bishop to visit Fiji cyclone zone

Australia’s foreign minister said she would visit Fiji tomorrow to see first-hand the devastating impact Tropical Cyclone Winston had on the people and economy of Fiji.

Julie Bishop said during her stay, she would also meet the Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and the Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.

Her office said the Australian government responded rapidly following Cyclone Winston, committing more than 11 milion US dollars.

Australia dispatched about 30 relief flights to Fiji to deliver more than 500 tonnes of humanitarian support and equipment.

It also deployed its largest Navy vessel, the HMAS Canberra, with about 60 tonnes of emergency relief supplies.RNZI

45) Drought a chance to produce more food: Priest

Source:
The National,Thursday March 10th, 2016

THE current drought being experienced in the country, especially in Western, should provide an opportunity to produce more food, a farmer priest says.
Fr Mateus Juang, a Catholic priest in Western, said the dry spell was seen as a disaster for the people and Government because of its impact on food supply and agriculture
Juang said while there was shortage of food in parts of the country, the opportunity was there to turn many of the country’s swamps and lagoons into rice paddies that could provide sources for rice supply to affected areas.
He said Western had a large land mass that was suitable for growing rice.
“There is the potential here to go into massive rice farming and now we have the drought in the country, this is an opportunity,” Juang said.
“People say we cannot grow rice, but that is old news, we in fact can grow our own rice.
“It is unfortunate that we previously had not done anything to cultivate the swamp lands for rice paddies.
“The drought was predicted months and even a year before it actually happened.
“It was during that time that the country should have prepared itself.
“Right now millions of kina are being spent on imports when it could have been spent locally.
“We have vast swamp lands, but with the support from stakeholders like the government, we can be able to create a supply that can be providing for in times like the drought that we have.”
Meanwhile, Juang, who is currently helping locals in the North Fly district in rice farming, said that interest in the communities had been growing.
He said while the market was domestic, there was a possibility to also expand.
“We see there is a market but transportation is something that needs to be provided,” Juang said.

46) Flood wreaks havoc

Source:
The National,Monday March 14th, 2016

By JAMES APA GUMUNO
ABOUT 700 settlers living in Kondopina-Waghi bordering Jiwaka are hit by flooding.
Food gardens are under water, five houses have been washed away and  40 others partly submerged along with four churches, an elementary school, an aid post, and the  foundation of the Waghi Bridge has been washed away. The bridge is almost collapsing.
Ward councillor Gigmai Kama, of Kondopina ward two in the Kotna LLG in the Western Highlands, told The National last Friday that continuous rain and floods caused the Waghi River to burst its banks last week, disrupting people’s lives.
Kama said settlers from Eastern Highlands, Chimbu, Enga and Southern Highlands living in the Kondopina-Waghi Flood Zone were  affected.
“The flood covered our food gardens for four days, washed away five houses, party covered 40 houses and four churches belonging to Catholic, Renewal, Seventh-day Adventist and Christian Life Centre,” he said.
Kama said the people found it “very hard to go to their gardens and find food”,  like kaukau, taro, potatoes and vegetables planted after the drought.
“We are now living at the mercy of other neighbouring tribes who come and donate food to feed the people now living in the care centre which we built on Monday,” he said.

47) Fiji Commissioner Urges Public To Report Food Rationing Problems
Allegations of unfair distribution will be investigated

By Serafina Silaitoga

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, March 11, 2016) – Commissioner Northern Jovesa Vocea has asked members of the public to contact him or his office if they had concerns over the sharing of food ration.

His plea follows reports and allegation over unfair food ration distribution in some parts of the North.

Although he has not received any complaints or reports, Mr Vocea has pleaded that any such complaints were to be taken to his office.

“I have not received any complaints or reports of unfair food distribution. So far all is well and our teams are revisiting affected areas with assistance,” he said.

[PIR editor’s note: On March 11, 2016 Fiji Times reported that ‘The National Disaster Management Office has so far distributed $9,615,844 (US$4,565,340) worth of food rations to areas affected by Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston. … The rations have been distributed across the four divisions with $1,411,568 worth of rations distributed in the Eastern Division, $706,888 worth of rations to the Central Division, $4,288,517 worth of rations distributed to the Western Division.”]

The Fiji Times has received phone calls from some affected villagers informing the team about alleged unfair food distribution.

In some parts of Bua, villagers claimed that food distribution was based on who you know.

A villager who contacted this newspaper said civil servants received more food than villagers.

Mr Vocea has reiterated that all complaints and concerns be made to his office or members of the public could contact him on 9908947.

“The tents have also arrived and affected villagers on Taveuni should have got their tents by now.

“More food ration also arrived on the MV Iloilovatu yesterday (Wednesday) which have been delivered to the affected villagers in Kubulau and other areas.”

Fiji Times Online.

48) 25,000 dwellings houses affected by cyclone Winston in Fiji

5:00 pm GMT+12, 13/03/2016, Fiji

A total of 25,000 dwelling houses in Fiji have been damaged in cyclone affected areas.

A massive rehabilitation is expected to be led by government.

National Disaster Management Office Director Akapusi Tuifagalele who was in Koro island last week  said discussions are still underway however the focus for now is the provision of basic needs and shelters.

He said the rehabilitation phase will take a few years.

“The meetings are continuously done in Suva. We still waiting for all the reports to come in from the Divisional Commissioners on the ground and until we have that as we know now we have about 25,000 dwellings here in Fiji that has been affected but with the detailed sectorial assessments that will be done and by the Commissioners and his team on the ground with the real figure of what is actually damaged and government will be able to work out from there how much rehabilitation and recovery cost that will need to be met to get the community back to normality,” said Tuifagalele.

SOURCE: FIJI TV/PACNEWS

MINING,FORESTRY,

49) PNG’s Ok Tedi mine shut again

Operations at Papua New Guinea’s massive Ok Tedi copper mine remain suspended after the death of a worker on Thursday.

The Ok Tedi mining company says a section of rock and dirt fell from the mine’s western wall into a sump, where a worker who was at the bottom attending to pit training was unable to clear the flowing debris.

Ok Tedi mine, Papua New Guinea Photo: Dev Policy

It says an investigation has commenced and mining operations will remain suspended until further notice.

The mine, which employs about 800 people, only reopened two weeks ago, after operations were last year suspended for eight months with management attributing the move to the prolonged drought.

The mine, which is dependent on the Fly River for the shipment of its copper concentrate out and bringing in of fuel and supplies, was unable to operate as river levels dropped.14/3/16 RNZI

WOMAN,YOUTH,CHILD


50) Police to fight discrimination against women

Source:
The National,Monday March 14th, 2016

By TONY PALME KIP
POLICE in Central are setting their sights on fighting discrimination against widows in the province.
A group of women representing more than 5000 widows from Central under the PNG Widows Association were assured support by the head of the police, Assistant Commissioner of Police NCD/Central Command Supt Sylvester Kalaut.
Kalaut met association president Maria Koyapo Unde and administrator Jameson Mange last Friday at his office in Boroko and pledged police support to fight against discrimination.
Unde said Kalaut told them that his policemen would be partnering with widows in the province to raise awareness on discrimination within families and communities by coming up with workable solutions.
“Normally, widows are women who are weak, voiceless, rejected, marginalised and excluded from the community and they fend for themselves and suffer miserably,” Unde said.
“They need a voice where they can express themselves, be heard and receive the attention –  just like any other women.”
Unde gave account of how widows, once their husband died, were left alone with children or without children and other properties, copped discrimination and accusation from family members and the community.
“Many of these women have very sad stories to tell and you would feel for them but you would also feel bad about those who discriminate them.
“As a widow myself, I tell you, they (widows) go through a lot and they suffer a lot.”
She mentioned that some of them owned properties that were forcefully taken away, leaving them as nobody and they became helpless.
Unde said there were more than 200,000 such women in the country and it would be “very sad if all 200,000-plus tell their stories”. She said the women needed a national intervention policy that could protect them.
“We at the PNG Widows Association have just started and are seeing some good support from the likes of the Secretary of Community Development, Youth and Religion Anna Solomon, Bank of Papua New Guinea, and even Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has assured of supporting the association.
“This is all to empower these women to become independent, find their place in the community and contribute meaningfully to national development because they have potential.”

51) Christian Care Centre wins Australian High Commissioner’s Women’s Day Award

Published: 11 March 2016

AUSTRALIAN HIGH COMMISSIONER ANDREW BYRNE AND HIS SPOUSE POSE FOR A PHOTO WITH 2016’S WINNER OF THE AUSTRALIAN HIGH COMMISSIONER’S IWD AWARD, THE CHRISTIAN CARE CENTRE, RECEIVED BY SISTER PHYLLIS MARGRET SAU, THE CENTRE’S COORDINATOR.

The Australian High Commissioner’s International Women’s Day award was presented to the Christian Care Centre yesterday for their work in helping women and children affected by gender based violence in Solomon Islands.

The annual Australian High Commissioner’s International Women’s Day Award recognises inspirational and pioneering Solomon Islands groups and individuals who show leadership, innovation and courage, and whose achievements have contributed to the empowerment of women in Solomon Islands.

“By recognising role models this way, we hope we can inspire others to support gender equity across the country,” said High Commissioner Byrne.

“This year, we’ve chosen to honour the Christian Care Centre – a group of sisters from the Church of Melanesia, who have made a significant contribution to the fight against gender based violence by providing shelter and crucial services to vulnerable women and children in the Solomon Islands.

Established in 2005, and operated by two orders of Anglican nuns, the Sisters of the Church and the Sisters of Melanesia, the Christian Care Centre (CCC) plays a unique role in the Solomon Islands as the only key provider of shelter for women and children affected by gender based violence.

Christian Care Centre has a well-earned reputation in delivering, under difficult circumstances, a crucial service to vulnerable women and children. The Centre assists about 170 women and children per year with emergency accommodation, and also operate a mini health clinic at the center.

The Centre’s services include counselling, mediation, referrals to the police and courts, life skills and sewing for women. They receive funding from Church of Melanesia, World Vision, SIG, Australian High Commission through the Channels of Hope Program.

Receiving the award on behalf of the members of the Christian Care Centre, the Centre’s Coordinator, Sister Phyllis Margret Sau, said it was an honour to receive such an esteemed award.

“The Centre is humbled to be receiving such a prestigious award, recognizing our work in helping the women and children of Solomon Islands. I would also like to say ‘tangio tumas’ to our stakeholders who have helped us, without them, we would not have come this far.

As part of the entertainment at the breakfast, international sensation Rosie Delmah performed Adele’s number, Hello.Solomon Star.

52) SI launches gender assessment report

Published: 11 March 2016

With the theme ‘Promise to fairness, zero discrimination’ International Women’s Day was celebrated in Honiara on Tuesday.

It also marks the launch of the country gender assessment report supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The Minister for women, youth, children and family affairs – Honourable Freda Soriakomua Tuki, when officiating at the celebrations today said the 2016 theme is a strong reminder to all Solomon Islanders that despite the many effort done to combat discrimination against women and girls, they continue to experience it in many parts of the country.

Honourable Tuki said that as a country, Solomon Islands has made significant improvements in addressing some of the gender barriers experienced today.

She said the passage of the Family Protection Act 2014 is a demonstration of the efforts made to address domestic violence which is one of the major gender issues and concerns in the country.

She also highlighted that in 2014, the Government presented for the first time, its combined state report on the convention of the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women which stated that Solomon Islands has made progress in improving the status of women, and what areas it is yet to fully address.

Honourable Tuki also revealed that the ministry will soon launch both the revised Gender equality and women’s development – GEWD, and the Eliminating violence against women – EVAW policies towards the end of the second quarter.

She said despite the many gaps we have in addressing gender equality, the country must celebrate the gains we have achieved so far in advancing the status of women and girls in the country.

The Minister ended her speech by saying that everyone needs to work together to move forward to bring about meaningful change in Solomon Islands.

The findings of the report will be used to raise awareness and support ongoing gender mainstreaming efforts that have been initiated by the government. The ADB supported country and gender assessment report analyzes the progress of Solomon Islands towards achieving gender quality across different social, economic and political spheres.

“The government’s active involvement in the assessment process has been very encouraging. The challenge will be to keep the momentum going after the launch by widely disseminating the findings to ensure they are used for developing targeted interventions and monitoring progress toward gender equality goals,” said Sunhwa Lee, ADB Principal Social Development Specialist.

The report  brings together existing gender-related research, data, and policy documents to present evidence-based  information in ways that closely parallel the priorities of the national  Gender Equality and Women’ s Development Policy. The aim of the assessment is to:

*    Report on current disparities between women and men, girls and boys
*    Identify gender related barriers in achieving development goals in each sector
*    And reinforce on-going efforts toward gender equality, and recommend specific strategies to support the government’s implementation and monitoring of its gender equality commitments.

Hundreds of women and men took their time out from their daily routines to join in the celebrations on Tuesday.Solomon Star

EVENT

53) Fashion with a passion for helping

Talebula Kate
Monday, March 14, 2016

THE Fashion Council of Fiji (FCF) will launch the fashion industry’s first all-encompassing awards season tonight at the Inaugural Masi Gala at the Novotel in Lami.

This will be an annual fundraiser for the council to carry out capacity-building programs for the burgeoning fashion industry.

FCF chairperson Faraz Ali said while no awards would be given out this year, the night would mark the beginning of the competition with designers, photographers, stylists and fashion media being judged throughout 2016.

“This FCF Masi Gala will be an awards night from 2017 where the fashion council will recognise the outstanding contributions made to the Fijian fashion industry by individuals from all areas of the industry and related arts, with awards being given for design excellence in womenswear, menswear, childrenswear and accessories as well as extraordinary accomplishments in journalism, photography, styling, editorial work and special awards for long-standing contribution to the industry,” Mr Ali said.

The gala, originally set to take place the weekend straight after Severe TC Winston hit, is now raising funds to help those affected.

“It is important for us as an industry and as artistes to be reactive to what is happening in our society,” Mr Ali said.

“Severe TC Winston has shaken us all and we at the council are of the firm belief that if the people of Ra, Lomaiviti, Cakaudrove and Lau are affected, then in some way the rest of us are too. As such all proceeds from the auction as well the masi exhibition fundraiser will go towards mental health work for survivors of the cyclone as well as to the purchasing of water tanks and building material.

“The council has already led successful charity drives immediately after the cyclone for food and clothing for the people of Ra and Lau.”Fijitimes

ART

54) Artist clearfies role of two national cultural entities

Source:
The National,Monday March 14th, 2016

THE decision to merge the National Cultural Commission and the National Museum and Art Gallery Culture has gone down well with some people who are involved in the arts, an artist from Jiwaka says.
Director and chairman of the Pig Festival in Jiwaka Jack Kulam said culture was the identity of the indigenous Papua New Guineans and the move by the Minister for Sports, Culture and Tourism Justin Tkatechenko would likely affect many.
Kulam said, the Government should have sought the wider view of artists before making such decision.
Kulam explained that National Cultural Commission (NCC) was responsible for culture and activities while the National Museum was involved with the  storage of artefacts and cultural items that have been made and used.
He said both organisations played the same role of promoting, preserving and most importantly safeguarding of our unique cultures.
However, Kulam said artists and cultural leaders still wanted NCC to operate on its own as a separate body because it helped promote and market their work.
NCC for the past years has been with these local artists and custodians of the traditional contemporary arts and cultures to help them initiate many cultural activities including festivals, shows and crafts exhibitions.
Kulam said, most of these artists depended on NCC as it played a vital role for them.
He added that having both entities would look at addressing specific problems faced by group of people who are attached to promote culture in the this country.

SPORT


55) Mick Potter to coach Fiji Bati

Mick Potter has been appointed coach of the Fiji rugby league team on a short-term contract.

The former Wests Tigers, Bradford, St Helens and Catalans Dragons coach will take charge of the Bati for May’s Pacific Test against Papua New Guinea.

The 52 year old Potter replaced fellow Australian Rick Stone, who had been in charge since 2011.

Fiji National Rugby League chief executive Timoci Naleba said further discussions will take place with the Newcastle Knights assistant coach at the end of the year regarding the 2017 World Cup.14/3/16 -RNZI

56) Samoa join Fiji in Vancouver 7s quarters

Samoa have qualified for the Cup quarter finals at a World Sevens Series event for just the second time this season.

The Manu bounced back from an opening defeat to Fiji, beating Kenya 26-19 and thrashing Portugal 43-7 to finish second in Pool A behind their Pacific neighbours.

It’s the first time Samoa have made the last eight since the opening round of the season in Dubai back in November.

Samoa will face New Zealand, while series leaders Fiji will take on the USA after coming from behind to beat Kenya in their final pool game to secure top spot.

In the other quarter-final fixtures, South Africa play Wales and Australia play Scotland.14/3/16 RNZI

57) Taekwondo a perfect match for Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua

Tonga’s Olympic-bound athlete Pita Taufatofua says there is something special about the sport of taekwondo.

The 32-year-old won gold in the over 80kg class at last month’s Oceania Qualifying tournament to seal his place at the Rio Olympics.

It was the third time of trying for the Australian-based Tongan, who started learning taekwondo at the age of five and has been hooked ever since.

“There’s something about taekwondo which is once it’s in your blood it doesn’t go anywhere. There’s nowhere else in life I can experience the same challenge that taekwondo gives me: getting onto the mats; getting into the ring to fight somebody you don’t hate and whose sole purpose is to kick you in the head and your purpose is to kick them in the head. The emotional set you go through going into that is something I fear everytime but something I don’t experience anywhere else in life so it excites me being able to find those things which I fear and then walk towards them.”

Pita Taufatofua said he believes he is capable of winning a medal in Rio later this year.

“One of the things I learnt from this whole experience is that the only way to succeed or achieve anything is to have absolute belief that you will. I have no doubt in my mind when I get on the mats I’m not going to leave anything behind and I have absolutely no dount that I will be in medal contention. As soon as I stop believing that there’s no need for me to go to the Olympics.”14/3/16 RNZI

w: www.voiceofmelanesia.com

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