New Zealand High Commissioner Jonathan Schwass met with Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Mark Ati yesterday. This was the first meeting between the High Commissioner and Vanuatu’s new Foreign Minister and it presented an opportunity to discuss areas of mutual interest to our two countries, regional developments related to the COVID pandemic, and the response to Cyclone Harold.
New Zealand was pleased to hear directly from the Minister about new Government’s priorities for foreign affairs and the Minister also expressed his sympathy to the families of New Zealanders who have lost loved ones in the COVID pandemic.
The High Commissioner reiterated New Zealand’s ongoing commitment to helping Vanuatu and its other Pacific neighbours respond to the economic and health impacts of COVID-19.
To date the New Zealand Government has approved NZ $50 million (3. 48 billion vatu) to support the Pacific’s preparedness for and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Vanuatu this assistance – totalling more than NZ $4 million ( 280 million Vatu) – has focused on the provision of direct budget support for Vanuatu Government’s economic stimulus package, support for the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 response plan, and support to the WASH Cluster to help install water systems to encourage hand washing and good hygiene practices in schools.
New Zealand is also working hard to keep supply chains open – to ensure that food, fuel and medical supplies can continue to flow into the region – and we have provided additional funding, alongside Australia, to procure GeneXpert cartridges to assist Pacific countries with in-country testing for COVID.
The High Commissioner also paid tribute to the resilience shown by the people of Vanuatu in responding to Cyclone Harold and said that New Zealand would continue to work alongside Vanuatu as it recovered from this significant natural disaster. Source: NZHicom