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Pacific news in brief for August 16

West Papua - beaten
Media in Papua says at least 16 activists from the West Papua National Committee or KNPB were beaten by the police while holding a demonstration commemorating the New York agreement in Sentani, Jayapura Regency on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the KNPB, Ones Suhuniap, said most of those who were hit suffered serious head injuries.

Suhuniap said the police used batons to beat up demonstrators in Sentani and fired water cannons to disperse the crowd.

The KNPB simultaneously held demonstrations in Papua and in other parts of Indonesia.

This action was to ask the UN to review the 1962 New York agreement through which the Netherlands and Indonesia agreed to transfer control of Papua from the Netherlands to Indonesia.

Pacific - MSG meeting
The 22nd Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders' Summit will be held in Port Vila next week.

The summit was supposed to be held from July 17 to 21, but it had to be rescheduled because Solomon Islands had a clash with their Parliament sitting and Vanuatu was also busy hosting the Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival, alongside the arrival of the French President.

Vanuatu's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Matai Seremiah, confirmed the new date for the summit to the Daily Post on Tuesday, after being briefed on the event.

Seremiah said the summit will be held from Wednesday to Thursday following the Foreign Affairs Ministers' Meeting and the officials' meeting.

Pacific/Germany - abandoned
Germany's foreign minister Annalena Baerbock has abandoned a trip to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji after a problem with her government plane twice forced it to return to Abu Dhabi.

AP reports Baerbock set off from Berlin on Sunday on what was supposed to be a nearly weeklong trip.

But after two episodes of a technical issue, Baerbock wrote on X - formerly known as Twitter - it was not logistically possible to continue her Indo-Pacific trip.

She added the Pacific region will mark the world order of the 21st century decisively.

Nothern Marianas - tourism
Northern Marianas' tourism industry has continued its upward trend with more than 25,000 tourists visiting the islands last month.

The Marianas Visitors Authority said the CNMI received 10,367 visitors in the same month a year earlier - in July 2022.

Visitor arrivals from South Korea reached 20,627 last month.

The Authority said strong demand in Korea has generated an abundance of air service to the Marianas.

Forum - troika
The Pacific Islands Forum or PIF Troika met in Suva last week ahead of the Leaders Meeting to be held in Rarotonga later this year.

The Forum Troika is the leadership group made up of the past present and future chairs of the regional organisation.

The prime ministers of the Cook Islands, Tonga and Fiji met to discuss their role within the Troika mechanism.

Cook Islands PM and the current Forum chair, Mark Brown, said an update was given on arrangements for the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum, which will be held in Rarotonga and Aitutaki from November 6-10.

The leaders also considered an update on the Pacific Resilience Facility, which provides full-grant financing without debt for disaster preparedness in the region.

West Papua - drought
The head of the Puncak Disaster Management Agency in West Papua has confirmed that her office has distributed food assistance across 15 villages in Puncak Regency.

Yuniet Murib said these villages in Central Papua Province have been significantly affected by an ongoing drought.

Jubi TV reports Murib saying 8,000 people have been affected.

According to data compiled by the disaster agency, six fatalities have been reported in the three districts due to the famine.

Tonga - conference
A preparatory meeting for next year's International Conference on Small Island Developing States is underway in Tonga, where delegates from 38 independent Small Island States are in attendance.

Tonga's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fekita Utoikamanu said many challenges need to be discussed.

"Small island developing states have experienced an increasing and evermore complex mix of challenges," she said.

"We have coped with multiple crises. The SIDS as far back as 1994 in Barbados alerted to the threat of climate change and this is now an existential threat on many levels.

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