Friday, December 19, 2014

Working Visit by President Mori

President Mori and his delegation arrived in Tel Aviv on the morning of November 30 to begin a five-day working visit in Israel to strengthen the relations between Israel and FSM and seek technical assistance to address food security and improve FSM’s economic performance. Traveling with the President were First Lady Emma S. Mori, FSM Vice Speaker Paliknoa Welly and Mrs. Shrue Welly, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Lorin Robert, Director of Office of Environment and Emergency Management Andrew Yatilman, Ambassador to USA Asterio Takesy, Department of Resources and Development Trade Adviser Roger Mori, Chuuk Legislature Speaker Innocenti Oneisom, and Chuuk State Chief Justice Camillo Noket.
Straight after lunch, President and his delegation met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his senior staff and advisers at the latter’s conference room that lasted more than forty minutes. He was quite effusive in his expression of welcome to President Mori and his delegation. “I am so happy to welcome you, Mr. President and your entire delegation to Israel. I am very pleased and gratified with the long relationship between Israel and your country. Our countries are physically very far apart but our hearts are very close,” said Netanyahu. “We want to renew and strengthen our long historical relations based 
on shared values, but we look more to the future,” he added.

President Mori thanked Netanyahu for the warm welcome and introduced members of his delegation and congratulated Netanyahu for his many achievements that have contributed to the welfare of the people of Israel. “I am very proud of my government’s steadfast support for Israel, especially at the United Nations. This continued support is based on Judeo-Christian traditions and our common values; furthermore, Israel was among the first country in the Middle-East to recognize FSM after independence,” said President Mori. “I have met with the Jews Committee in the United States every year to solidify our mutual relations with the United States. FSM will continue to support Israel,” he added.

Mori stated that FSM is putting together an action plan for 2023 that calls for tax reform, cost-saving measures, and improved economic performance as Compact financial grants and certain economic assistance are set to end in 2023. Furthermore, the FSM Compact Trust Fund’s interest earning in 2023 is forecasted to be $45-$50 million short of the projected budget for 2024. FSM therefore is looking to Israel for an independent evaluation of the action plan and technical assistance in FSM’s priority areas of development: agriculture, fisheries, tourism and renewable energy, given Israel’s advance technology and expertise in the areas.

“We can dispatch technical people---we should consult closely on putting an appropriate team. We are prepared to put together a program to help you through this team. Water management is a good example of using technology and expertise for development. What I want to do is to send a team out to look at the relevant areas we can help you with. We are used to doing more with less,” Prime Minister responded.

Israel arranged for guided tours for the President’s delegation of important historical, cultural and sacred sites to broaden understanding and deepen appreciation of common values and Judeo-Christian tradition.

The delegation visited Netiv Haasara settlement located a few hundred yards from the Gaza Strip wall as well as selected areas along the Golan Heights to acquaint themselves first-hand of the constant thread people living in such areas have been facing.

On the travel north to the Sea of Galilee, the group toured the largest water facility in the country, Eshkol to witness first hand application of technology to water management. Eshkol supplies the entire country with all of its fresh water needs.

Visits to two kibbutzims gave the delegation close up observation of the application of high-tech to modern management of diary and vegetable farming. They were given guided tours of the plant laboratory, nursery and banana farm where they were briefed in details of management and product quality control methods. The water system for the banana farm impressed the delegation to no end as it was totally computer control and divvied out through synthetic membrane tubes.
President Reuven Rivlin highlighted the Working Visit with a brief welcoming ceremony at the President Official Residence during which President Mori reciprocated by offering a symbolic present of two coconut fiber sennit bundles. Before handing them over to Rivlin, Mori tied them together and said, “These ropes symbolize the strong bond of friendship between Israel and FSM.  This kind of rope is made from coconut fiber and it is used for building houses and ocean-voyaging canoes in FSM---they bind us together.” President Rivlin and Mrs. Rivlin then proceeded to host President Mori and Mrs. Mori to an official lunch that was attended by senior Israel officials, including Israeli’s non-resident Ambassador to the FSM Michael Ronen. Vice Speaker Welly and Mrs. Welly, Secretary Robert, and Ambassador Takesy accompanied President Mori.

“I am very, very happy to welcome Your Excellency, President Mori and Mrs. Mori, along with Vice Speaker Welly and Mrs. Welly, Secretary Robert and Ambassador Takesy. Israel is very grateful to you, Mr. President for your country’s strong and continued support for Israel”, said President Rivlin. He went on to point out he was aware of and deeply appreciated the fact that FSM’s steadfast support for his country has put the FSM in tenuous position at times, in particular at the United Nations, where FSM has consistently supported Israel since joining the world body.

President Mori and his delegation departed Tel Aviv on the morning of December 5 for Newark, ending his working visit.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Update: Response Team Assists Green Boat and Blue Boat Group as Tropical Storm Hagupit is expected to hit Yap

2 December 2014 - Another breaking point for Yap as tropical storm Hagupit is expected to make landfall as typhoon in Yap. The National and State responders along with the assistance of local and international partners have taken collaborative approach to facilitate typhoon preparedness and proactive readiness to assist all persons from the blue boat and green boat group in advance of Hagupit that is expected to hit Yap Wednesday afternoon or Thursday.  

The typhoon watch has been activated at state level. It has been reported that the response team in Yap is evacuating all persons on the two boats to secure their safety by placing them into appropriate shelter on land. It is also expected that Hagupit is to intensify over the next few days that could later develop into a typhoon. 

The FSS Independence currently scheduled for Satawal may possibly be redirected if needed to aid possible rescue efforts.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Two Papua New Guinean Drifters rescued by Yapese fishing vessel

On November 23, 2014, at approximately 4:00 p.m., the Yap Seagull found a small stranded boat drifting in the FSM EEZ with 2 men from Papua New Guinea (PNG), Michael Bolong, 54, and Ambros Wavut, 28, located approximately 116 nautical miles south of Kapingamarangi Island.

Michael Bolong and Ambros Wavut met by the
medical team and appropriate authorities

The Yapese fishing vessel came across the PNG castaways after the men had been adrift for months. The Yap Seagull crewmen took the two men aboard the vessel and delivered them to the nearest port, arriving in Pohnpei on Saturday, November 29, 2014, at around 2:00 p.m. The drifters were cleared by appropriate authorities and claimed that a third person who was with them did not survive the ordeal. The third person, Francis Dimansol, 48 years old, allegedly died from severe health conditions that occurred while out at sea.

It was reported that Bolong and his nephew, Wavut, departed Lihir Island bound for Tanga Island on August 15, 2014, but the small boat ran out of fuel and went adrift after encountering stormy weather.  The older drifter recalls the harsh conditions they endured including exposure to the sun and surviving off of rainwater and fish.
“After weeks, a month, we were forgotten” Bolong said, based on his experience with rescue missions being cancelled following failed attempts to recover missing persons.

The boat they were found on was abandoned after they were rescued. Only their personal belongings and boat engine were brought on board. Both survivors are fine and showed no signs of serious health problems after months of drifting although they were admitted to the Pohnpei State Hospital for observation.
After months of being adrift at sea, Bolong (left) and Wavut (right)
are about to step on land again

Under the Admiralty and Maritime law of the FSM, the master of a vessel is required to “render assistance to any person found at sea and in distress or in danger of being lost if this assistance can be rendered without endangering the vessel, crew or passengers.”  19 FSMC Section 425.  While it is reported that some vessels have failed to render assistance to persons that they encounter at sea who are in distress, the Yap Seagull performed admirably and rendered assistance without question. 

Authorities from the FSM National Government, including the Department of Justice, Department of Health, and the Department of Foreign Affairs, as well as Pohnpei State officials including medical personnel from the Pohnpei State Hospital, met the Yap Seagull upon its entry to Pohnpei Port and provided further assistance to the two survivors. The FSM Department of Foreign Affairs is currently in contact with the PNG government to repatriate the drifters back to PNG.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Green Boat Accesses Yap Harbor Seeking Aid

The Sinar Harapan 02, a green boat in distress involving 36 undocumented persons, entered Yap harbor on November 18, 2014, seeking food, water and fuel because they had run out of provisions a few days before their arrival.

The FSM National government and State of Yap government are working together utilizing national, state, and local resources to assist the urgent needs of the green boat group of individuals, which assistance is also being supplemented by help from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Micronesian Society of Red Cross, and other international agencies and organizations. The National and State governments, along with their local and international partners, are actively committed to working together efficiently and effectively to ensure cross-collaboration based on morning briefings covering daily needs, projections, on-hand resources, and legal updates.  

Congress approved $25,000 from the General Fund of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) on November 26, 2014, to provide emergency support “to defray humanitarian assistance costs of the emergent humanitarian situation in Yap State, and for other purposes.” It is expected that President Manny Mori will take immediate action to sign and implement into law as soon as it is transmitted from Congress. In addition to the $25,000, other national, state, and international funds are being utilized to assist ongoing efforts to determine the status of these undocumented individuals while meeting their humanitarian needs.

Aboard the green boat were 2 persons from Indonesia, 16 from Nepal, and 18 from India. Because the individuals arrived without any documentation, information as to their identities is being confirmed. In addition, mixed reports and information provided by the green boat group has delayed confirmation of their legal status. According to officials, the undocumented individuals have not sought refugee status from the FSM since their arrival although they originally claimed they were going to seek refugee status in Hawaii.  The FSM Department of Foreign Affairs is monitoring the situation and reaching out to various governments that may be involved.  It is hoped that the legal status of all members of the green boat group will be established within the next week, which will help determine the next steps needed to repatriate individuals, if appropriate.