After three and a half years providing support for Pacific Islands Countries, the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on COVID-19 (PHP-C) has been formally closed.
Established by Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers in April 2020, the PHP-C enabled the delivery of over 390 tonnes of health and humanitarian relief supplies to 15 Forum Member countries.
Following the World Health Organisation’s declaration in May 2023 that COVID-19 is now an established and ongoing health issue which no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, Forum Foreign Ministers agreed that the time was right to stand down the PHP-C.
Forum Foreign Ministers highlighted the significant role that the PHP-C played in all collective responses to COVID-19 pandemic and expressed gratitude to all member countries and partners involved.
Ministers noted the initiative demonstrated our region’s resilience and cooperation during challenging times, highlighting that the PHP-C provided a strong anchor and available example of the strength of our Forum partnership.
“The PHP-C is an excellent example of Pacific Island nations working together to overcome a global challenge2 said Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna. “It shows our ability to come together as a collective political decision-making body in times of urgent crisis in our blue Pacific region.”
‘Having supported over 53 flights during the pandemic and facilitating the movement of 177 technical health and humanitarian personnel, we felt it was appropriate to celebrate a job well done and harness the lessons from that experience as we prepare for the challenges that lie ahead.’
The PHP-C was supported by the World Food Programme’s Pacific Humanitarian Air Service, which managed the busy flight program while navigating border closures across the region.
“Partner support during the pandemic was excellent. We thank all those countries and organisations who helped us in time of need,” Secretary General Puna said.
The movement of goods and personnel during the pandemic was enabled by the establishment of five common protocols of the PHP-C, which covered the Deployment of Technical Personnel to and between Forum Nations; Immigration; Repatriation of Forum Nationals; Customs and Biosecurity; Clearances for Aircraft and Ships Transporting Medical and Humanitarian Assistance, Technical Personnel, and Repatriating Nationals.
The Forum continues to work together to enhance collective disaster preparedness and humanitarian responses across the Pacific region, guided by the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent which was launched by Forum Leaders in July 2022.
The PHP-C was established under the Biketawa Declaration, which outlines guiding principles and courses of actions that Forum Leaders developed in 2000 for use during crises in the Blue Pacific Continent.