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Pacific Religious give qualified support to Solomons intervention

The Australian-led peacekeeping force in the Solomon Islands has brought in a sense of peace and security, although the country's problems "cannot be solved by an outside force", according to a group of priests, brothers and sisters meeting in Honiara at the weekend.

The 55 religious were taking part in the regular Forum for Pacific Religious, held in Honiara at the weekend. The main topic for reflection was the role of education in bringing about a much needed discipline of life in the Solomon Islands.

Fr Ambrose Pereira of Catholic Communications in Honiara reports that "all were happy that the Australian led forces were now present and were about their main job of bringing back law and order back to the Solomon Islands".

"The force has brought in a sense of peace and security," he said. "People are now free to move around."

Howver several of the religious at the meeting expressed concerns.

Sr Rosario DMI argued that the problems of Solomon Islander cannot be solved by an outside force.

"Compensation - the cultural form of reconciliation has been abused and can be resolved only by the people of Solomon Islands," she said.

Br Martin Salo fms said that there were guns in the hands of the youth because they have nothing else.

"The young people need to be somebody," he said. "They need to be heard and listened to. They want to be noticed."

He challenged the meeting on whether they really know the needs of the youth and are ready to assist them.

Sr Donnasiana Kauhiri DMI said the 'Women for Peace' have been encouraging a return to peace. She urged the meeting to encourage them to continue their efforts for peace, "as they know the persons possessing arms".

Vincentian Fr Jack Harris expressed his fear that possible violent incidents that will destroy life as has happened in other Interventions the world over.

Catholic Communications (Solomons)

Keke trusts only God: ex-captive (Sydney Morning Herald)
Solomon Islands militants ready to lay down weapons (NZ Herald)
Intervention steps up presence (The Age)
Solomons Archbishop urges warlord to surrender (8/7/03)
Islanders need help to move to peace (Archbishop Adrian Smith, Sydney Morning Herald 7/7/03)
Big trouble in little paradise called Solomons (Catholic Leader)
The Catholic Church in the Solomon Islands
Pacific Islands Religious

28 Jul 2003