A group of 25 participants from border agencies across Fiji, Palau and Vanuatu have are in Suva for a two-week training program aimed at enhancing the management of each country’s seaports.
The training, facilitated by the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service with support from the Australian Border Force and Indonesia’s Directorate General of Customs and Excise, will provide participants with essential knowledge and skills for conducting vessel searches. This includes safety procedures at sea, boarding operations, boarding access systems and in-water survival techniques.
Australia and Indonesia have longstanding partnerships with the Pacific in border and seaport management. This collaboration reinforces traditional ties and contributes to maintaining the Blue Pacific continent as a zone of peace.
Seaports are important gateways for international trade and commerce in the Pacific, serving not only for the import and export of goods but also for tourism and additional economic activities. World Bank data from 2022 highlights the critical need for robust controls and capacity building in Fiji, where imports accounted for 69.2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
The timing of the training is significant, given the recent seizure of over 4.8 tonnes of methamphetamine reportedly imported into Fiji for export to developed countries in the Pacific region.
Fiji’s Attorney-General and Justice Minister, Siromi Turaga, inaugurated the training and emphasised its role in creating an ecosystem for monitoring, enforcing and prosecuting border control measures across the Pacific.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative, Munkhtuya Altangerel, highlighted the importance of the training in strengthening traditional partnerships and fostering regional cooperation to ensure a safer Blue Pacific Continent. This effort aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, aiming to combat illicit activities and create a safer and more prosperous environment for all.
Supported by the Government of Japan, the UNDP’s Integrated Border Management Project is jointly implemented by UNDP, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
The training, which includes practical on-water simulation events, is scheduled to conclude on February 23.
Source: UNDP Media Press release