Palau and Wallis and Futuna have eliminated lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem.

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Photo: 123RF

Also known as elephantiasis, the mosquito-borne disease can lead to permanent disfigurement and disability.

The World Health Organisation said the elimination came after nearly four decades of mass treatment and monitoring programmes.

The director of Wallis and Futuna’s health agency, Etienne Morel, said it was an enormous achievement, as half the territory’s population was affected by the disease a century ago.

Lymphatic filariasis remains endemic in American Samoa, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tuvalu.

American Samoa is in the midst of a mass medication campaign to eradiciate the disease.

Authorities are trying to get 80 percent of the population – or about 46,000 people – to take the annual dose of medicine, which clears the parasite from the bloodstream.

Two weeks in, 10-thousand people have been vaccinated.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Kim Won said it was important for people to get involved.

“These types of programmes are going on in more than 70 countries worldwide and more than a billion people are treated with these same medicines,” Dr Won said.

“So I think that we have a real opportunity to prevent this disease from impacting the lives of all the people in American Samoa.”

The pro-independence Caledonian Union says it will discuss the territory’s sovereignty directly with the French state, should the path of the referendum fail to give Kanaks independence.

In a weekend speech to the party leadership, its president Daniel Goa restated that in case of a rejection of independence next month, his side would invoke a second and possibly a third referendum as possible under the Noumea Accord.

Polls suggest a massive rejection of independence.

Mr Goa said those opposed to independence were now being offered the opportunity to build a new country with the indigenous Kanaks.

He said the main goal now was to create a Caledonian people.

Mr Goa said society had to change to save the Kanak identity, adding that 26,000 young Kanaks had fallen out of the system and 80,000 Kanaks were without income.

He said the anti-independence political rivals were selling off New Caledonians and turning locals into minions of neo-colonialism.

Mr Goa said people had left France, and once in New Caledonia they wanted to be French but didn’t want to go back home.

He said France had to recognise that its presence in New Caledonia made no sense because it is the result of a brutal seizure.

Daniel Goa addesses Caledonian Union
Daniel Goa addesses Caledonian Union Photo: FB Union caledonienne

The French High Commission to New Caledonia says should voters choose independence from France, the remaining powers held by Paris will be ceded.

Kanak and French flags on Ouvea island.
Kanak and French flags on Ouvea island. Photo: AFP

A month before the referendum, the Commission spelled out the implications of a vote for full sovereignty, while adding that a vote against independence would maintain the status quo.

It said in case of independence the current funding arrangements between France and New Caledonia would be obsolete.

It said a French law would determine to what extent the people of an independent New Caledonia could keep French citizenship.

The outline said France would not depart abruptly but ensure the transfer of security, public order, justice and monetary control.

The High Commission said conditions are now good for the polls to go ahead in all calm.

The High Commissioner Thierry Lataste told the local daily newspaper more than 250 magistrates will be arriving from France to help supervise the poll.

Mr Lataste also said about a dozen UN monitors will be present in locations of their choice and reporting to New York.

He said additional security forces will be flown in, including three mobile riot squads to counter any possible disturbances.

Mr Lataste said the official campaign will begin on 22 October, with both sides being allotted equal air time on public media outlets.

The police in Solomon Islands are investigating the death of a young girl following an alleged rape.

The police say the 12 year old died after after allegedly being raped during a community function on Tikopia Island in Temotu province on Thursday.

The police say it’s believed the incident occurred in a nearby bush.

The girl’s body was found floating in nearby Lake Teroto.

Assistant Commissioner Provincial Joseph Manelugu said a suspect is in the village chief’s custody and arrangements are underway to send police officers from Honiara to assist in investigating the matter.

“I call on both parties who are involved in this sad incident to refrain from taking the law in to their own hands but allow police to investigate the matter,” Mr Manelugu said.

“We are working very closely with the family of the suspect who allegedly raped the 12-year-old girl at Namo Village on Tikopia,”

The commander of the West Papua Liberation Army remains at large in the mountains of Puncak Jaya and is reportedly being pursued by Indonesia’s military.

Indonesian security forces have been searching villages in Puncak Jaya for members of the West Papua Liberation Army.
Indonesian security forces have been searching villages in Puncak Jaya for members of the West Papua Liberation Army. Photo: Supplied

Human rights advocates in Papua province said seven people were killed last week by Indonesian security forces hunting down the commander, Goliat Tabuni, and his men.

Goliat Tabuni of the West Papua Liberation Army
Goliat Tabuni of the West Papua Liberation Army Photo: Creative Commons

Such operations have intensified this year after the Liberation Army declared war on the Indonesian state in January.

An Australia-based spokesman for the Liberation Army-associated Free West Papua Movement, Akouboo Amatus Douw, said after last week’s surprise attack at Tabuni’s stronghold in Tingginambut, Commander Tabuni fled into the bush.

“At the moment he is still in the bush, and also about thousands civillians also fled to the bush. So we don’t know how many people been killed by Indonesian military forces, because it’s very far and very remote area,” he said.

The latest reports indicated that Indonesian forces were still in the Tinginambut area, attacking suspected Liberation Army members, which Mr Douwsaid was causing more displacement of villagers not linked to the conflict.

“We believe that because of the civilians, with mum and babies and kids also together with the group, it means it’s a real emergency situation in terms of how they can get food or water.”

Members of the West Papua Liberation Army.
Members of the West Papua Liberation Army. Photo: Supplied

Reports from Indonesia’s Papua province say seven West Papuans have been killed in a military operation in remote Puncak Jaya regency.

Indonesian police have been assisting military in a campaign against independence fighters in West Papua's Puncak Jaya regency.
Indonesian police have been assisting military in a campaign against independence fighters in West Papua’s Puncak Jaya regency. Photo: Supplied

The remote Highlands area has been the focus of efforts by the Indonesian military, or TNI, to hunt down members of the West Papua Liberation Army.

Five civilians, including two young children, were killed according to local human rights workers as the TNI mounted land and air attacks on the Liberation Army in Tingginambut District.

Two members of the Liberation Army were also reportedly killed in the incident which happened earlier this week.

A statement from the TNI said it was a standard operation in which military forces targeted an area where the banned Papuan nationalist Morning Star Flag was flying.

Colonel Muhammad Aidi said that at the outset, the Liberation Army was warned to surrender but instead fired at the TNI soldiers.

Colonel Aidi’s statement only cited the discovery of one Liberation Army member’s body, but he said a weapons cache was also found.

Indonesian security forces in a Highlands  village as they pursue independence fighters in West Papua's Puncak Jaya regency.
Indonesian security forces in a Highlands village as they pursue independence fighters in West Papua’s Puncak Jaya regency. Photo: Supplied

Following the violence and the emergence of the TNI in the regency many villagers have reportedly fled to the bush, according to human rights workers.

The TNI said it was followers of Goliat Tabuni’s Liberation Army group who fled into the nearby forest.


Source: Radio New Zealand

UK city considers honouring West Papuan leader

The chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Benny Wenda, is being considered for the Freedom of Oxford award.

West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda.
West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda. Photo: RNZI/ Koroi Hawkins

Mr Wenda and his family are based in the United Kingdom city where he was granted asylum in 2002 after fleeing Indonesian rule in West Papua

The Oxford Student reports that the city’s council was this week set to debate whether to grant the award to Mr Wenda in recognition of his long fight for indigenous rights.

He has been campaigning extensively on the international stage for West Papuan independence, and helped establish a Free West Papua office in Oxford.

Other notable recipients of the award include the former British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, as well as former South African president Nelson Mandela.

However, Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi was recently stripped of her Freedom of Oxford honour due to the Rohingya refugee crisis in her country.


Source: Radio New Zealand