13 Mar 2008

UN to open offices in northern Pacific

4:25 pm on 13 March 2008

The United Nations says it will establish its first offices in the North Pacific to improve services in three former United States territories.

The United Nations Population Fund or UNFPA is to establish sub-regional offices in the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia possibly as early as June.

The move is in response to a request issued to the UN by leaders in several Pacific nations in 2005.

While UNFPA is taking the lead in the Marshall Islands and Micronesia, the office will represent all UN agencies in the region.

UNICEF is setting up similar sub-regional UN offices in Vanuatu and Kiribati, while the United Nations Development Program is doing the same in Tuvalu, Nauru and Palau.

The UNFPA's regional representative, Najib Assifi, says it's also signed a new five-year country programme action plan for the Marshall Islands for 2008-2011.

He says it will increase support to population and reproductive health programmes from about 300,000 US dollars a year to half a million .