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            (8 May 2020); The Australian Government has committed WST18.4 million (AUD 10.5 million) in response to the economic and health shocks caused by COVID-19, and it is working in partnership with the Government of Samoa to deliver this support package.

            Australia and Samoa have supported each other to combat several challenges over recent months, including the Samoan measles epidemic and Australian bushfires, but we have never faced a challenge of the scale of COVID-19.

            Now more than ever is the time to work together to protect our families, our communities and our countries.

            The Prime Minister, Honourable Dr Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, said that the Government of Samoa appreciated the cooperation of all its development partners, including the Government of Australia, in their responses to requests to consider rescheduling and reprioritising existing aid programs in order to give focus to Samoa’s COVID-19 response plan.

            “I am grateful for the flexibility provided to reprioritise development cooperation initiatives in order to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic, particularly on the most vulnerable groups in our society,” the Honourable Prime Minister said.

            The Australian High Commissioner to Samoa, Her Excellency Sara Moriarty, said the Australian Government was committed to supporting the people and Government of Samoa, building on our longstanding partnership, to ensure a healthy, prosperous and resilient Samoa and broader Pacific region.

            “We are adapting the Australian aid program in Samoa to support Samoa’s preparedness and response to a possible COVID-19 outbreak—including strengthening broader health institutions and systems—and to mitigate the economic impacts of the global pandemic,” Ms Moriarty said.

            “We’ve been talking with the Government about how our COVID-19 support package of AUD10.5m, which is in addition to our existing bilateral development program, can best be directed to support the Government in fighting this virus. Supporting vulnerable people, and advocating for gender equality and women’s empowerment, are priorities of the Australian aid program more broadly, and we will again work with the Government and civil society to ensure that support gets to those who need it most,”

            “A pandemic with no respect for borders cannot be tackled alone, and our continued cooperation will be critical for the health and safety of Samoans and Australians alike,” Ms Moriarty said.

            Since January, the Australia Government has worked with the Pacific and Timor-Leste to prepare and respond to requests for assistance. This includes working with regional partners to provide support for laboratories, public information campaigns, medical supplies, in-country diagnostic testing for COVID-19, and health expertise.

            Australia’s response will build on the Pacific Step-up, which has strengthened our co-operation in helping to grow economies, build resilience, and enhance regional stability through our defence, policing and border security cooperation.

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