FCA Briefing with Sanaka Samarasinha, UN Resident Coordinator, Fiji

Words – April Pressler

Updated 27 July 2021

FCA Briefing with Mr Sanaka Samarasinha, UN Resident Coordinator, Fiji

On July 15, 2021, FCA members welcomed the opportunity to have a Zoom briefing and Q&A with the UN’s Resident Coordinator in Fiji, Mr Sanaka Samarasinha. COVID-19 featured as the dominating topic in the session that lasted over an hour, and members learned how the recent emergence of the Delta variant of the virus had brought on the Fiji Government’s determined campaign of vaccination in recent weeks. Fiji was undergoing difficult times due to this COVID development, after registering just 70 cases in the first year of the virus outbreak, but cases were now around 10,000. Anti-vaxxers and rumour were not helping to contain the current situation, but a determined vaccination program had ensured 64 percent had already received the vaccination. Mr Samarasinha said other Pacific island states in his area of UN responsibility, such as Palau and the  Marshall Islands, among others, were very advanced with their vaccination programs which had been largely assisted by the United States.

updated 15 July 2021

Video Recording of the Briefing
FCA members can view the briefing session below.
(Please contact FCA Hon Secretary April Pressler to access the video recording. Email – aprilp@ozemail.com.au)

1 July 2021

FCA’s second event in the special series of briefings for our members with the United Nations Resident Coordinators (UN RCs) in the South Pacific. 

Our next event in this series will be held with the UN Resident Coordinator in Fiji, Mr Sanaka Samarasinha.

FCA Briefing, via Zoom, with Sanaka Samarasinha, UN Resident Coordinator, Fiji

Thursday 15 July 2021 at 10.30am (AEST)

By 3pm on Wednesday 14 July to FCA Hon Secretary
April Pressler. Email – aprilp@ozemail.com.au)

Mr Samarasinha has been based in Fiji as UN RC since 2018, with multi-country coverage of nine other Pacific Island Countries: Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall islands, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Island, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. 

He will be happy to talk with FCA members and answer questions about a range of topics focusing on Fiji and other countries in the region, such as:

  • COVID and working under pandemic crisis conditions;
  • Has COVID set back development in the Pacific; 
  • What the UN is doing to support member states; 
  • Climate change and  financing;
  • Is he confident that UN donors will be able to see projects they have funded in the region and are they still on track?
  • How to juggle development and the COVID crisis;
  • Women in parliament;
  • EU programs with the UN on violence against women; 
  • How does he handle geopolitical tensions in the region;
  • Is multilateralism still important in the Pacific in relation to the growth of bilateral partnerships; 
  • Other issues in outlying islands of FIJI and other countries in his bailiwick.


On 1 September 2018, Mr. Sanaka Samarasinha commenced his appointment as the United Nations Resident Coordinator for the Republic of Fiji, with multi-country coverage of nine other Pacific Island Countries. Mr. Samarasinha served in Minsk as the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative (RC/RR) and UNFPA Representative in Belarus (2013-2018). Before this appointment, Mr. Samarasinha has served in various offices of the UN and UNDP, and in particular,as Director a.i., Global Centre for Public Service Excellence, Singapore; Senior Advisor to the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Iran; Officer in Charge, Maldives; Director a.i., Kosovo and Officer in Charge of UNDP Samoa, Niue, Tokelau and the Cook Island. Mr.Samarasinha was also Deputy Resident Representative in Myanmar and Deputy Country Director, Sri Lanka. Prior to that he served in Bangkok as the Regional Rule of Law Advisor covering 26 countries in Asia and the Pacific. Before joining the UN, Mr. Samarasinha worked in the legal profession andin journalism, with government, civil society and the private sector in several different countries including the USA, South Africa and India.

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