UN to expand presence in the North Pacific


Outgoing United Nations Resident Coordinator for the Pacific Sanaka Samarasinha said the agency is expanding the agency’s presence in the North Pacific.

In an interview during his visit to Palau last week, Samarasinha said the UN will open a brand new office in the North Pacific, which will cover the five Micronesian countries of Nauru, Palau, Kiribati, FSM, and the Marshall Islands, the office is going to be based in FSM.

He said they also looking at “ beefing up our physical presence here in Palau, in addition to the other countries in the North Pacific.”

He also noted that as Typhoon season approaches again, community-level preparedness is crucial, and with that, he said, the UN wants to increase its engagement in Palau and in the North Pacific.

“We are turning a page in some ways, you might say the way the UN works here in Palau. In particular, our approach to how we provide assistance and how we account for the assistance that we provide to Palau. And how we engage with the different actors is being taken to a whole new level,” he said.

He noted that in the past, the UN in the Pacific has a more regional approach with the main hub of operations out of Fiji.

“And we have covered Palau and Marshall Islands, FSM and others from there. And whilst we’ve had staff here, and we’ve had staff in all the other countries, much of our engagement was limited, you might say to these missions that came and went.”

Samarasinha said a range of UN agencies have been and will continue to provide support to Palau. UNDP, he said, has a significant initiative here funded by the Government of Japan, from providing equipment and doing renovation at the National Emergency Management Office.

“I was also informed recently that a water tanker that was purchased through that project had helped to save a building, a home a couple of days ago when there was a major fire here. So there are some tangible outputs from the initiative already. It’s quite a significant one,” he said.

He also said the assistance is also to make sure that communities understand the importance of preparedness.