Suva, Fiji: 25 participants from border agencies across Fiji, Palau and Vanuatu are in Suva for a two-week training program to strengthen the management of each country’s seaports.
The two-week training – spearheaded by Fiji Revenue and Customs Service, with support in facilitation from Australian Border Force and Indonesia’s Directorate General of Customs and Excise – will equip participants with essential knowledge and skills for vessel searches, including safety at sea, boarding operations, boarding access systems, and in-water survival techniques.
Both Australia and Indonesia have a long-standing partnership with the Pacific in border and seaport management, with this partnership strengthening traditional ties, and safeguarding the Blue Pacific continent as a zone of peace.
The Pacific has a strong reliance on its seaports, not only for the import and export of goods, but for tourism and additional economic activity. World Bank data shows that in 2022, the importation of goods and services to Fiji accounted for 69.2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product; this figure underscoring the critical need for robust controls and capacity building to be put in place.
The training comes at a timely moment for the Pacific, given the recent seizure of over 4.8 tonnes of methamphetamine that was reportedly imported into Fiji; this product due for export to developed countries in the Pacific Region.
Fiji's Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Hon. Siromi Turaga, opened the training and said it would contribute to the creation of an ecosystem for the monitoring, enforcement, and prosecution of border control measures in Fiji across the Pacific.
“Seaports are important gateways for international trade and commerce, with seaport border controllers our frontline defenders. From inspecting cargo and vessels to monitoring traffic, their duties are demanding, with this next fortnight an opportunity for training and skills enhancement. However, it must be noted that it only becomes useful if you put it to use,” he said.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative, Munkhtuya Altangerel, spoke at the opening of the training and said:
“This training will strengthen traditional partnerships between Australia, Japan, Indonesia and Pacific Island Countries to provide for a safer Blue Pacific Continent. It will not only support in strengthening borders, it will also contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, as through fostering regional cooperation and enhancing our capacity to combat illicit activity, we create a safer and more prosperous environment for all, ensuring that no one is left behind.”
UNDP’s Integrated Border Management Project is supported by the Government of Japan, with implementation of the project jointly undertaken by UNDP, the International Organization for Migration, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
The training – which includes practical, on-water simulation events, will conclude on 23 February.
For further media enquiries please contact:
Nick Turner, Communications and Advocacy Specialist, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji. (P) +679 971 6458 - (E) firstname.lastname@example.org