The Prime Minister of Vanuatu Charlot Salwai spoke on behalf of the Melanesian region during the meeting with Pope Francis in Vatican on Saturday.
“The volatility in economic growth trends across the region have been further exacerbated in recent years by the unprecedented frequency of strengthening natural disasters which have crippled island economies – an example being my island home Vanuatu which was hit by a Category 5 Tropical Cyclone in 2015,” said Charlot Salwai.
“Globally, the rise in the number of migrants seeking to escape increasing inequality and poverty brought on by environmental degradation is indeed tragic. In the Pacific region in particular, the issue of climate migration is now a reality. Island States have begun discussions on the options for re-location and re-settlement. We remain cognisant of the fact that re-location and re-settlement will introduce multi-dimensional issues that will need to be addressed,” Vanuatu’s PM stated.
PM Salwai also mentioned the human rights violations in West Papua during his speech.
“We cannot continue to turn a deaf ear to the long-standing allegations of human rights abuses in West Papua. In 2016, Pacific Islands Forum Leaders, in recognition of the importance of this issue, agreed that this issue remain on their agenda. The issue of West Papua continues to elude a formal international review mechanism because of the political sensitivities surrounding this issue and I must reaffirm the need for stronger and more decisive global politics to address the most critical issues that impact our societies and our people,” he said.