Working together to combat COVID-19 in the Pacific

  • Joint media release
  • Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women
  • The Hon Alex Hawke MP, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Assistant Defence Minister
  • Minister the Hon Simon Kofe, Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers, Minister for Justice, Communication & Foreign Affairs 

The Australian Government is working in partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum to contribute to its initiative to establish a Pacific Humanitarian Pathway amid global supply chain disruptions.

This vital Forum initiative ensures the passage of humanitarian and medical supplies within the Pacific as we work together to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hon Simon Kofe, Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers, welcomed the initiative and said: “Australia’s support will ensure that the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway will be able to deliver much needed humanitarian and medical supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through its actions, Australia is working to achieve values of familial ties and care for neighbours key throughout the Pacific.”

Australia will provide $5.5 million to the World Food Programme to support efforts to manage COVID-19 in the region. This includes $4 million for air transport and logistics services for the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway, the delivery of humanitarian and critical medical supplies, including Personal Protective Equipment, and assessments of the impact of COVID-19 on food security in the Pacific.

“As a member of the Pacific Islands Forum, Australia is doing its part to operationalise the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway including through the implementation of protocols for freight and passengers that minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” said Foreign Minister Senator the Hon Marise Payne.

Minister for International Development and the Pacific the Hon Alex Hawke MP said Australia has worked with its Pacific family to combat COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

“This funding means, in partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum, we are able to assist in the successful passage of vital supplies through the region as we continue that fight,” Minister Hawke said.

Australia will also commit $3.5 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Pacific Health Sector Support Plan (phase II) which will facilitate the delivery of health advice and supplies to Pacific Island countries.

“We welcome Australia’s strong support for the Pacific’s regional response to COVID-19,” said Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Dame Meg Taylor. “We are working together to deliver an efficient and effective Pacific Humanitarian Pathway, and are ensuring Pacific voices and ownership are at the heart of our response to COVID-19.”

This unprecedented crisis is threatening the health, wellbeing and security of all Pacific peoples. By working as one region, we will get through this time of hardship together.

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