The Australian Government is providing 19 new patrol boats to Pacific island nations to combat increasing rates of transnational crimes in the region.
Australia has also pledged to train law enforcement personnel.
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop made the announcement at a Pacific Foreign Affairs Minister’s meeting in Fiji’s capital, Suva.
“Australia is certainly providing more resources and assistance,” she said.
“For example some of the maritime issues including illegal fishing, drug trafficking and human trafficking … the Pacific Islands need more resources.
“So Australia is building a new fleet of patrol boats … 19 new patrol boats that will be provided to 12 pacific nations to upgrade from the current fleet of Australian patrol boats and these will be help to detect and deter crimes in our region.”
“We are also building skills to ensure Pacific Islanders have the ability to not only detect crime, but to also enforce the law.”
Ms Bishop said Australia would also fund regional health programs to eliminate dengue fever and improve the nutritional diets of Pacific citizens.
Ms Bishop said the emergence of India as a new development partner in the region should not be seen as a challenge and that Australia was looking at bolstering greater labour mobility with its Pacific neighbours.
She said the need for a regional peace keeping force similar to that of RAMSI in the Solomon Islands will be tabled at next month’s Pacific Forum Leader’s meeting in Samoa.