‘Foster greater co-operation

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United Nations Development Program (UNDP) resident representative Munkhtuya Altangerel. Picture: ATU RASEA

United Nations Development Program (UNDP) resident representative Munkhtuya Altangerel has urged all regional border agencies and personnel to foster greater co-operation as the expansive Pacific Ocean presents a unique set of challenges for Pacific Island Countries in securing their borders.

Speaking at a border control training workshop in Suva yesterday, Ms Altangerel said PICs relied on seaports not only for the import and export of goods, but for tourism, and additional economic activity.

She referred to a World Bank data from 2022 which showed the importation of goods and services to Fiji accounted for 69.2 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Ms Altangerel said the two-week training would equip participants with essential knowledge and skills for vessel searches, including safety at sea, boarding operations, boarding access systems, and in-water survival techniques.

Attorney-General Siromi Turaga sitting third from left with garland, with participants during the border control training workshop in Suva yesterday. Picture: ATU RASEA

“With the Government of Japan supporting the broader Integrated Border Management project, I am delighted to see this tripartite engagement toward securing a safer future for all in the Pacific, a region that was described as the ‘zone of peace’ at the last Pacific Islands Forum meeting in the Cook Islands,” she said.

“This training is also very timely, given the recent seizure of over 4.8 tonnes of methamphetamine that was reportedly imported into Fiji and due for export to developed countries in the Pacific region.

“With this in mind, it will contribute to strengthening the overall governance systems that exist between all government agencies to ensure that the ecosystem for the monitoring, enforcement and prosecution of border control measures are done so efficiently and effectively.” She also encouraged greater gender equality in border control agencies.

“This training shows that we all have a role to play in protecting our borders, and it is fantastic to once again see so many women in the room today,” Ms Altangerel said.

“Change happens slowly until change happens fast, and on behalf of UNDP we are committed to furthering gender equality and women’s empowerment, ensuring that more women are actively engaged in this sector, without any permissive barriers, moving forward.”