FIJI REAFFIRMS PARTNERSHIP WITH UNHCR IN “ADDRESSING DISASTER DISPLACEMENT”

Fijian Prime Minister, Honourable Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama has reaffirmed Fiji’s commitment to continue to support the work of the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) through strengthening collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in addressing disaster displacement issues in the Pacific region.

PM Bainimarama conveyed this message today to the UNHCR while speaking at the UNHCR, 71st Session of the Executive Committee Meeting held in Geneva.

The UNHCR 71st session examines the organisation’s global emergency response to support refugees, internally displaced persons, host communities and host governments during this unprecedented crisis. It also discussed challenges arising from the pandemic, including temporary border closures, and innovative solutions and partnerships among member States.

The meeting also highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has had far reaching consequences on a global scale and to an extent the pandemic has also increased the financial burden of building national resilience for Small Island Developing States in the Pacific.

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Speaking at this High Level Meeting, PM Bainimarama spoke on the current regional and national efforts to address the devastating impacts of climate change faced by the region.

“Our regional efforts are complemented by the UN Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS), which has allocated seed funding for a project focused on Enhancing Protection and Empowerment of Migrants and Communities Affected by Climate Change and Disasters in the Pacific Region.

“Fiji has developed comprehensive national relocation and national displacement guidelines to ensure that there is consistency, coherence and justice as we serve people who are displaced by natural disasters or need to be relocated due to sea-level rise.

“Fiji is also embracing the use of the latest science and technology and working with United Nations Operational Satellite (UNOSAT) Applications Programme and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) to build our capability to forecast the effects of climate change,” PM Bainimarama said.

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The Prime Minister added that as a region, the Pacific is already dealing with the need for strengthened infrastructure and relocate entire communities to higher ground to escape the rising seas, but on the other hand we are now faced with gutted revenues due to the economic impact of COVID-19 on key industries, like Tourism.

“We have experienced eight (8) tropical cyclones within four years, and this experience has taught us the importance of disaster preparedness. Government is investing in building-back-better with resilient infrastructure and ensuring that we have coping mechanisms across all levels of society to help us recover from natural disasters and adapt to climate change.”

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Whilst emphasising on the importance of global solidarity, the Head of the Fijian Government commended UNHCR in pressing for a discussion of climate change as a new driving force for internal displacement.

“While countries like Fiji are working to adapt to the climate change, it is equally important that the UNHCR continue to ensure that the nexus of climate change and human mobility are at the heart of multilateral discussions. We must adopt a global approach to displacement challenges, even while we work regionally.

“We are in for a long struggle with climate-related displacement, and we must take tangible steps now to create momentum for a great international effort to address the future of refugees across the world,” PM Bainimarama said.

The UNHCR 71st Session Executive Committee Meeting will conclude on the 9th of October 2020.