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UN Expands Its Presence In The Pacific

UN Expands Its Presence In The Pacific

By Andreas von Warburg – Reporting from New York.

The United Nations is strengthening its presence in the Pacific and is in the process of opening a new office in the Marshall Islands to improve its reach in the region and better assistance services.

According to Najib Assifi, regional representative of the New York-based United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the new sub-regional office should be established as early as June and should be soon followed by an additional office in Micronesia.

"We're ready to open the new [Marshall Islands] office," Assifi said during a trip to Majuro, the capital city of the Marshall Islands. "We'd like to be in operation by June." Assifi confirmed the newly-created post will represent all UN agencies operating in the region enabling them to respond more quickly and more efficiently while expanding the world body's presence in smaller islands.

This is an integrated approach involving the three major UN programs active in the region, he said. In addition to UNFPA, which is taking the lead in the Marshall Islands and FSM, UNICEF is setting up similar sub-regional UN offices in Vanuatu and Kiribati, while the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is doing the same in Tuvalu, Nauru and Palau.

Assifi said the island governments will be shouldering the costs for office space, while the UN will pay for all operations costs, including the salaries of two people to be hired locally.

The move responds to concerns raised by heads of state and government of several small island states issued in 2005. Back them, the UN agreed to set up field offices in seven countries, including its first offices in the north Pacific, to improve services in and communications with the islands.


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