Pacific security chiefs share COVID-19 lessons

Pacific Island nations’ security agencies have held the 2nd Joint Heads of Pacific Security Conference virtually.

Police Commissioner, Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil, participated in the meeting.

According to a media statement distributed by the Australian government, security leaders from 24 nations and territories as well as five regional bodies specialising in strategic-level dialogue were also in attendance.

Australian Chief of the Defence General, Angus Campbell, Australian Federal Police [A.F.P.] Commissioner Reece Kershaw and the Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram were also part of the conference.

The themes of the conference focused on responding to the collective challenge of COVID-19 in the areas of border security, maritime security, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and how to become better than the sum of the region’s parts.

General Campbell reflected on the common security challenges faced in the COVID-19 environment.

“COVID-19 has presented a number of challenges to maritime and border security efforts, which have affected nations in various ways,” the head of the Australian Defence Force said.

“The impacts of the pandemic were not made any easier by the devastation of Tropical Cyclone Harold and the Australian Defence Force was proud to work with Fiji and Vanuatu in their humanitarian and disaster relief responses.”

Mr. Kershaw added that the A.F.P. remains closely engaged with Pacific policing and security partners during this challenging time.

“Police across the Pacific are part of our policing family. Our strong and enduring partnership will ensure our region’s national security interests are safeguarded today and well into the future,” he said.

While Mr. Outram said that the Australian Border Force was pleased to work closely with law enforcement agencies across the Pacific.

“Now more than ever, our ability to work collaboratively will be vital as we strive towards common goals such as regional security maintenance. From the ABF’s perspective, we are all only as good as our collective efforts,” he stressed. 

“For example, the ABF is committed to delivering improved intelligence sharing between our Pacific nation families. As we move into recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, our borders remain critical national assets to protect and manage well.”

Japan and the United States also joined the conference for the first time along with representatives from the Oceania Customs Organisation, Pacific Immigration Development Community, Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police, Forum Fisheries Agency and the Pacific Islands Forum.

The conference is part of the Australian government’s Pacific Step-up and brings together the leaders of Pacific security agencies to facilitate discussion of security challenges and collectively build resilience for the future.

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