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PCF Regional Roundup | News from around the Pacific

Media 26 Feb 2021

In this week’s Pacific Regional Roundup: Vanuatu announces its travel bubble effective from April, Kiribati government rejects reports over its Fiji land sale, and former PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare passes away at the age of 84.

Vanuatu has confirmed its implementation process of the ‘Tamtam Travel Bubble’. Initially announced during the country’s Independence celebrations in July 2020, the travel bubble will allow safer travel between Vanuatu and New Caledonia. Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Bob Loughman says it has chosen New Caledonia to open its borders to due to “no active community case for more than 28 days, and their COVID-19 prevention protocols are in line with Vanuatu’s health and security measures.”
The Tamtam Travel Bubble will be effective from April.

Kiribati government are rejecting media reports claiming it is considering selling its land in Fiji to China. In 2014, the Kiribati government bought several thousand hectares at Notoavatu on Vanua Levu as a site for Kiribati people to relocate should the effects of climate claim their home islands. While there are no plans on selling the land, the Kiribati government have been in talks with China to convert the land into a working farm to supply produce to Kiribati.

Papua New Guinea’s former Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare has passed away at the age of 84. Affectionately known as the ‘Grand Chief’, Sir Michael has been credited for ushering PNG to independence in 1975, thus becoming widely admired and a respected figure. Sir Michael is survived by his wife of 56 years, Lady Veronica, their five children and respective families.

First image: Sir Michael Somare, former PNG Prime Minister. Source: EPA

Second image: The seaward half of the Natoavatu Estate in Fiji is used mostly to raise cattle and collect coconuts for copra. The land was purchased by Kiribati in 2014, ostensibly as a refuge for its citizens displaced by climate change, but will now be converted into a farm to help feed the nation. Photograph: Christopher Pala/The Guardian