The annual meeting of the FRANZ agreement (signed by France, Australia and New Zealand to coordinate and rationalize the emergency operations in case of natural disasters in the South Pacific) took place on the 7th and 8th of November 2011, hosted by the Australian Government Overseas Aid Program AusAID in Canberra.
On this occasion, France, in the presence of New Caledonia High-Commissionner Mr. Albert Dupuy, has handed down the presidency (held since May 2009) to Australia for a two-year period (Nov. 2011-Nov. 2013).
The various stakeholders have reminded the crucial importance of the FRANZ agreement in the specific local context: the Pacific sland States are regularly suffering from natural disasters (cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, vulcanic eruptions, flooding and drought) which occurence tend to increase ; those States are mostly extremely remote, composed of numerous scattered islands sometimes with no maritime connections and have very few resources to answer to a crisis situation. The States in the region endowed with military and civil capacities, such as Australia, New Zealand or France, are therefore oftern required to assist the small Pacific Island States.
The FRANZ agreement , flexible and pragmatic, allow us the help those States to be better prepared to face natural disaster, to share informations between partners and to cooperate and coordinate emergency assistance.
Over the years, FRANZ has become a crucial partnership in the response brought to natural disaster in the Pacific area.
France has reminded its attachment to this key agreement, signed in 1992 and constantly reinforced over the last two decades. The cooperation between France, Australia and New Zealand in terms on emergency assistance is the manifestation of our solidarity and will to maintain stability in the region.
This was also the opportunityu to highlight several FRANZ operations over the past two years: tsunami in Samoa and Tonga in Sept. 2009; Vulcanic eruption in Gaua in the Banks archipelago of Vanuatu in Nov. 2009; cyclone Thomas in the Fiji Islands in March 2010; cyclones Vania and Atu in Vanuatu in Feb.-March 2011. Those actions are the illustration of the increasing importance of our cooperation and its capacity to perform fast and efficiently towards crisis resolution.
The next FRANZ annual meeting will take place in Australia in October 2012.