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PCF Regional Roundup | News from around the Pacific

Media 29 Jan 2021

It's been a busy start to the year in the Pacific region with travel bubble announcements, COVID-19 vaccine developments, high profile appointments, impacted tourism, and the RSE scheme back on the move.

The first twice-weekly flight from the one-way Cook Island bubble landed in Auckland on Thursday 21 January, with quarantine-free entry enabling Cook Island residents access to essential services. Talks of New Zealanders wishing to travel to the Cook Islands are ongoing with the safety of residents in both countries at the forefront of decision-making.

The first RSE workers since border closures arrived into New Zealand this month. As part of the agreement, seasonal workers will finally by paid a living wage, and employers will cover any associated quarantine costs.

In tourism news, the beloved Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa in Samoa announced its closure despite its best efforts to stay open during the pandemic with staff cuts and price reductions. The owners of the 24-year old resort made the difficult decision earlier this month.

Fiji's ambassador to Geneva, Nazhat Shameem Khan, was announced as president of the United Nations Human Rights Council. It's the first time a Pacific representative has been appointed to the role in what is seen as a crucial time for human rights accountability.

COVID-19 vaccinations are rolling out in the US and French territories across the Pacific and Samoa is expected to receive its first round of vaccines next month with help from the Australian Government.

In climate news, the US has reinvigorated its international efforts to tackle emissions by rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate change. The return overturns former U.S President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the country from the agreement, which was only effective for 107 days. 2020 was recorded as the hottest year yet.

All schools are closed today in Fiji and warning centres activated in Tonga with new tropical cyclone warnings, along with severe weather warnings for Samoa. The post-Cyclone Yasa rebuild is ongoing.

In PCF news, it was great to see our inaugural PCF Youth Leadership Award winners recognised in their home countries by local media. We look forward to sharing more about our past and future projects in the coming weeks.

First Image: Pacific Islands workers have been described as invaluable to New Zealand's horticulture and viticulture industries. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Second image: Scientists and foreign diplomats have welcomed the US return to the treaty.(AAP: Dean Lewins)