Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Samoan delegation and Minister stranded in the cold

Cherelle Jackson, Environment Weekly, Climate Pasifika

Copenhagen, 15 December - Three members of the Samoan delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen received a not so warm welcome from Denmark.

After flying for more than 20 hours the previous day, the Minister of Health Hon. Gatoloai Ama Gidlow and two delegates from Samoa had to wait for up to six hours outside the blistering cold and snow at the Bella  Centre the next morning to get registered.

Gatoloai who was pre-registered as a representing Minister managed to go into the centre within the hour but returned to appeal to the officers to let two supporting delegates, who were placed some 300 people behind in the registration line.

Unfortunately the Danish officers who did not understand UN protocol did not allow the two delegates to be registered with the Minister.  Thus six hours later without much progress the two delegates were still in line.  Luckily for the delegates, a Samoan Police Officer currently serving a United Nations Mission and one of the securities at the conference came to their aid. Tonisi Lalogafau rescued the delegates from the cold and personally escorted them into the centre without a fuss.  It took another two hours before the two were registered.  Gatoloai said she was disappointed at the way in which the registration process was handled.  When Environment Weekly caught up with her, she was safe and warm inside the Bella Centre, but tired from the wait.

Meanwhile hundreds of others were turned away at the gate as the Danish conferencing system collapsed causing great delays, and even harsh reaction from the conference goers.  The Conference organisers told the media that they were only prepared for up to 20,000 participants, but have been hosting 45,000 therefore cause glitches in the system.

The high level meeting starts today in Copenhagen.

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