Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare has expressed support for a proposition by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to participate as a guest in the open sessions of the annual Pacific Islands Leaders’ Forum as of this year.
The Head of the ICRC Pacific Office based in Suva, Fiji, Alfred Grimm called on the Prime Minister last Friday (24th March) and sought his opinion on this proposition after briefing him on the work of Solomon Islands Red Cross (SIRC).
Mr Grimm was in Honiara to attend the launch of the new SIRC strategic plan last Wednesday.
Mr Grimm told the Prime Minister that it would be useful for the ICRC to participate in open sessions of the Pacific Islands Leaders’ Forum as a guest to provide updates on its work and exchange views with leaders on issues ‘close’ to it (ICRC) such as the International Humanitarian Law.
“It would be very useful for us to participate in the open sessions of the Pacific Island Leaders’ Forum even as a guest.
“It is important that Pacific regional leaders thoroughly understand what we stand for and are doing both regionally globally and to exchange ideas on issues close to us such as the International Humanitarian Law, particularly the challenges to its application.
“We are conscious of the need to raise awareness to build more effective partnerships in the Pacific region.”
Mr Grimm said he would be going to Samoa in May this year and will also seek the opinion of Prime Minister Tuilapa Sailele Malielegaoi on the proposition.
Samoa will be the host of 48th Pacific Islands Leaders’ Forum this year.
“Obviously we need the support of all Pacific Island Forum leaders behind this proposition so will work towards achieving this objective,” he added.
In response, Prime Minister Sogavare said, “Definitely you have our support.
“I see no reason why the ICRC should not be invited to participate as guest at the open sessions of the Pacific Islands Leaders’ Forum.”
The Prime Minister said he could write a letter to the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor to formally inform her of his support for the proposition if required.
In his briefing to the Prime Minister on the work of the Solomon Islands Red Cross, Mr Grimm said SIRC has made a lot of progress in its operations since the election of its new board and Secretary-General.
The new Secretary-General is Mr Thomas Bebeu.
“I think the new board will eventually call on you as well to present themselves and explain a little bit about their work.
“I think they have recently become dynamic by actively engaging in community work, disaster preparedness and risk reduction and resilience.”
On that note, the Prime Minister expressed appreciation for the work of the Solomon Islands Red Cross and wished them well with the implementation of their four-year strategic plan.
The plan is aimed at improving community resilience to disasters and emergency situations, building a strong Red Cross National Society and strengthening SIRC’s influence and partnerships with its partners and stakeholders.
At the end of their discussions, Mr Grimm presented a book titled ‘Humanity in War.’
In the book originally published in April 2009, the ICRC traces the history of war and its humanitarian consequences from the American Civil War to modern day conflicts with striking images that bring to life the pain and anguish of men, women and children who endured the hardships of war.
Whilst in Honiara, Mr Grimm also met with the Commissioner of Police and the Acting Commissioner of the Correctional Services.
-PM Press Secretariat