A Cabinet Minister in the Samoa government has urged citizens not to worry about the effects of the Israel-Hamas war in the Middle East on the country’s finances.

Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) Chairman and Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, La’auli Leuatea Schmidt told the EFKS TV programme on Friday that the war in the Middle East is unlikely to impact Samoa’s financial position.

“Over two years ago we encouraged everyone to go back and work the land in case of emergencies or situations like these,” said the Minister. “The conflicts between Israel and Palestine are not new.

“It is also in the bible that there would be war and we know what will happen to them in the end. These are what we call holy wars.”

La’auli said over two years ago, when the FAST administration entered office following the 2021 general election, they pushed for the development of Samoa’s agriculture and fisheries sectors, and he believes the people can rely on the sea and the land and not imported goods to survive.

“We revived those very important developments so we no longer have to keep relying on imported goods to survive. That’s the lesson we learned from the lockdowns and the widespread COVID-19 pandemic.

“Going back to the lands and our sea can ensure that we will have enough food supply for income and for consumption. The only people complaining are the ones who do not work. We have the answer to the problems in our hands.

“So instead of complaining, we should support the initiatives initiated by the government so we can rely on our how hands and our own backyards to provide for us. Other people will not come and feed you. You are responsible for taking care of your family and children.”

La’auli also urged Samoans to pray for a speedy resolution of the Middle East conflict.

The Minister’s comments on the conflict in Israel on the EFKS programme coincided with the arrival of 16 Samoan adults and a year-old toddler in Samoa on Friday, who recalled going through bomb shelters and being told to hide minutes before their departure from the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

The one-year-old travelled with his parents who were amongst the group of 21 members of the Samoa Prayer for Israel group who travelled to Israel over a week ago for a conference and got caught in the crossfire before they were evacuated.