Vanuatu Council of Ministers approves VT10 million for Fiji

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Vanuatu Council of Ministers (COM) has approved a VT10 million (US$89,280) donation to support Fiji during this COVID-19 pandemic.

This was formally recorded in COM decision No. 182, during the Council’s 18th Ordinary Meeting.

Director of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade (MOFAICET), Yvon Basil ,affirmed that Fiji is one of Vanuatu’s very close partners.

“Vanuatu has a good relationship with the government of Fiji,” he said.

Fiji has helped Vanuatu in many ways, including hosting quite a large number of students who are studying in there.

Given the Melanesian solidarity, the government felt the urge to assist them.

“This is one of the reasons why the government decided to help them,” the Director stated.

“This is a kind gesture to show our solidarity and sympathy to the government of Fiji that we are here to support them in this uncertainty.”

Basil also added that it wasn’t really a financial assistance, but a donation to show them that Vanuatu is behind them.

This indicates the kind of relationship shared between the two countries and also to strengthen this relationship.

Foreign Affairs Director Basil confirmed this is the very first donation that the government of Vanuatu had donated to Fiji specifically to address the COVID-19 situation.

There have been many donations over the years, but they were made in response to natural disasters.

The authorities are liaising with the High Commission of Vanuatu in Fiji to transfer this fund.

Basil further acknowledged that Fiji is also celebrating its 51 years of Independence which will coincide with the 50 years of Pacific Island Forum..

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs is now waiting for Vanuatu’s Embassy in Brussels to provide an update on the status of the seven Afghanistan nationals who are holders of Vanuatu passports.

According to Director of Foreign Affairs, Yvon Basil, these seven people comprises a couple and their five children.

Last week, the government requested its development partners to assist in the evacuation of these nationals. This came about following a Council of Ministers (COM) decision.

Director Basil said they submitted formal requests to Vanuatu’s development partners that have a presence in Kabul, Afghanistan. These include the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia.

“They have acknowledged our requests and will collaborate with our Mission in Brussels to address the evacuation issue,” he continued.

The COM direction was to evacuate the nationals out from Afghanistan before 31 August.

August 31 was also the deadline for United States’ complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.

But the Foreign Affairs director said a day after the COM decision, there had been a suicide attack at Kabul Airport. The evacuation process was disrupted and time was running out for those wanting to leave Afghanistan.

There are 127 Afghan nationals who were granted Vanuatu citizenship. So far, only the family of seven have sought assistance from the Embassy in Europe.

The request for assistance from Vanuatu authorities specifically targets this family.

SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS