The 39th independence celebration in Port Vila commenced with the launching of the country’s upgraded passport yesterday.
The upgraded passport is now ready to be released, following its launch by Prime Minister (PM) Charlot Salwai.
The launch occurred following the declaration of this year’s independence celebration, after yesterday’s victory parade through town.
With a validity period of 10 years, the new passport has a strong cover with a printed Vanuatu flag compared to the old one. It contains unique custom designs, high security features and more serial digits to improve security.
PM Salwai said the passport is one of the documents that criminals targeted in identity fraud, which is on the rise everywhere around the world.
“The Government, through the Ministry of Internal Affairs, recognises the importance of investing in the improvement of our passport security features,” he said.
“Records reveal that 105, 000 Vanuatu passports have been issued since 2010. Around 30 to 36% of the country’s 289, 886 population hold a passport.
“Our founding leaders have fought against the colonial powers so that we gain freedom and have our own passport. Our passport is our identity.
“We have to protect our identity and own it with pride. The launching of this upgraded passport is a huge achievement for us.”
Minister of Internal Affairs Andrew Napuat urged all citizens to celebrate in unity at all Area and Ward Councils.
“Colleague leaders, all government workers, private sector workers, visitors and all people of Vanuatu, it is time we celebrate our 39th independence with humbleness, unity and look ahead on what you can do to bring positive changes to our country and future generations,” he said.
“The decision is on our hands.
“As we approach Independence Day, I wish to remind us of the unity that was instilled within those who fought for our freedom.
“The same call also goes to all politicians to leave aside their differences, unite and celebrate with the people. Let us unite and cherish our Independence Day,” he said.
Yesterday’s independence victory parade from Moorings to Seafront was led by the Vanuatu Mobile Force.