31 Aug 2006

Pacific police training in Fiji on how to cope with natural disaster threat

7:09 pm on 31 August 2006

More than a dozen of the region's senior police officers are undergoing training in Fiji to help them tackle the threat of natural disasters.

Disaster risk management specialists from the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission or SOPAC and the Asia Foundation have been running a special course for police in Suva.

SOPAC's community risk programme manager, Alan Mearns, says it's part of the regional policing initiative funded by New Zealand and Australia.

Mr Mearns says many countries in the Pacific are prone to natural disasters and the police have a critical role to play during them.

"There's a real problem with resource constraints in these countries and the police are one of the few organisations that are available 24 hours a day to assist the community. So as well as their law enfrocement role they play a significant role in the response and immediate recovery from natural disasters."

The workshop aims to raise police awareness about their role in assisting communities to prepare and respond to disasters like cyclones and tsunamis.