U.N's Samoa office resurging amid emergency

Three new staff have joined the United Nations’ local office since the nation’s borders closed.

The Head of the multi-country office, U.N.’s Resident Coordinator Dr. Simona Marinescu, is expected back in the country by the end of November. She has been locked out of Samoa since the international borders were closed in March.

She is scheduled to return on Friday 27 November 2020 on a special charter flight direct from Los Angeles. She will make her way home to Samoa via New York.

Dr. Marinescu said she looks forward to coming home and working with colleagues “without a screen in between.”

Her role includes managing the multi-agency operations in Samoa which are responsible for a number of regional states: the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, and Tokelau. 

Her office also leads the multi-million tala Spotlight Initiative on gender-based violence and is helping Samoa develop a regional data hub for a development called the Global Pulse Lab.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (F.A.O.) is welcoming two new staff next week when they complete their quarantine.

Xiangjun Yao is the new Subregional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands and will be responsible for representing Samoa and 13 other Pacific Islands to the F.A.O.

She has been with the F.A.O. since 2011 and is relocating from a five-year stint as the Regional Programme Leader for Asia and the Pacific. 

Ms. Yao is from China, where she has held high-level roles at the Department of International Cooperation in the Ministry of Agriculture.

“I’m honoured for the opportunity to serve in the Pacific,” Ms. Yao said in a statement provided to the Samoa Observer.

“I look forward to enhancing F.A.O.’s work in providing policy advisory support and technical assistance to its 14 Member Countries in the Pacific to improve food security, income-earning opportunities in agriculture, fisheries and forestry, and related sustainable natural resources management.”

Tongan New Zealander, Malia Talakai, also arrived in Samoa at the end of October. She is the new Natural Resources Officer for Climate Change at the F.A.O. 

She has previously been a Climate Change Officer at the F.A.O. with a focus on gender equality and studied for her doctorate at the Centre for Pacific and Asian Studies, Department of Anthropology, the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

The Samoa Observer understands another person recently joined the Resident Coordinator’s office from Fiji.


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