Pacific ministers endorse Fiji Military’s Blackrock camp as disaster relief depot

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Pacific countries have officially agreed to use the Fijian Military’s Blackrock Camp as a regional humanitarian relief depot.

Fiji’s Disaster Minister Inia Seruiratu announced the endorsement of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) facility while outlining the 11-point declaration made by Pacific Island Forum’s Disaster Ministers in Nadi.

The state of the art Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Facility, Blackrock, boasts a large scale relief warehouse, logistics headquarters necessary to coordinate relief response work, a medical centre, and physical training facilities.

The redevelopment of Blackrock Camp, conducted as part of the Australian Government’s Pacific Step-up programme, cost AUD$100 million (US$67 million) and was built over almost three years.

“The disaster ministers have considered that the Blackrock Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Facility to be used as a regional humanitarian depot that would help overcome the challenges of geography in the Pacific and enable humanitarian actors to pre-position and stockpile relief items and support equipment for swift delivery in emergency situations,” Seruiratu said.

Seruiratu said the declaration, which was endorsed by representatives from 17 Pacific Island Countries who attended the first Pacific Disaster Risk Reduction Ministers (PDRRMM) meeting, also committed to “working in genuine and inclusive partnership.”

The PDRRMM, organised by the Pacific Community and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, was hosted by the Fijian government and aimed to escalate political leadership around disaster risk reduction.

Despite the recent political upheavals in the Pacific Islands Forum which culminated with the withdrawal of Kiribati in July, the PDRRMM chair Seruiratu said the Oceania islands, which according to UNICEF and the World Bank is the most disaster prone region of the world, would continue to work together.

“We do respect the sovereign rights of each member countries and that has not changed. The decisions that have been taken by the leaders does not in any way affect the working relationship and most importantly, this whole meeting is about humanitarian assistance, there is no politics in humanitarian work, because everyone is affected and therefore, everyone needs to be involved in bringing up solutions and that is the focus.

“You will see from the participation and you will see from the outcomes of the meeting, that is no one is left behind. We are all in this together and we will continue in this together,” said Seruiratu.

SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS