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Wednesday 14 January 2015 | Published in Regional


PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Hundreds of asylum seekers are on hunger strike and refusing to return to their compounds as a wave of protest sweeps the Australian run detention centre on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

The Refugee Action Coalition says the protest began on Tuesday morning when issues with running water meant the asylum seekers could not shower. Tensions have been rising in recent days as most of the asylum seekers approach 18 months of detention on Manus Island and at least one protester has stitched his lips shut. An asylum seeker in Mike Compound says more than 220 people have begun their hunger strike, and he expects more to join in today. “All of us we are standing under the shelter and we never go back to our rooms until we die”


AMERICAN SAMOA – The American Samoa Department of Health says a large media campaign and the end of the Christmas holidays has helped address an influenza outbreak. Epidemiologist Scott Anesi says hundreds of people in the territory had contracted the virus peaking at 400 new cases for the last week of the year. However Anesi says with people leaving after the holidays and better practices being put in place around the home, the problem has eased, although it remains over the action threshold of 100. “We’re definitely pushing the massive media campaign and public awareness to try and sell good self-treating at home, proper hygiene practices and targeting our paediatric and geriatric population.


AMERICAN SAMOA – The American Samoa government has given the go ahead to a company from the Philippines with plans to set up a multi food processing plant in the territory. Governor Lolo Moliga says the due diligence report affirmed that the company , AVM Bernardo engineering is a legitimate company of good repute in the Philippines. He says a ground breaking for the company’s plant is scheduled for this month. The company plans to spend 106 million US dollars on its proposed factory and will hire up to 700 people.


AMERICAN SAMOA – Port authorities in American Samoa are looking at using drug detector dogs after a passenger was found carrying marijuana on board the inter-island ferry, MV Sili. Last week, Joshua Filioali’i was found with marijuana in his bags and he now faces one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance. He told police there are several marijuana plantations being grown in the Manu’a islands. Because the MV Sili sails between the territory’s main island of Tutuila and the Manu’a island group, an inspection by customs is not required. But after the latest case, the Port Administration director, Claire Poumele, told Samoa News that she will be requesting Customs for use of its K9 unit.

Kava shortage

VANUATU – A fresh delivery of kava lasted just a day in Vanuatu’s Port Vila, as a kava shortage continues to affect kava bar owners. Bar owners queued to buy from a delivery of about 100 bags of fresh kava last Friday, after more than half had been forced to shut because of the shortage. The kava supply has recently dried up as commercial vessels stopped services to the main islands that grow kava – Pentecost, Epi, Malekula and Tanna – over the holiday period. The shortage is estimated to have affected more than 1,000 people who depend on the sale of kava as their main source of income. The next shipment of fresh kava is expected during the weekend. The kava shortage has also seen the price of kava from Efate rise by 50 per cent to about four US dollars a kilo.