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Caritas Australia assesses The Solomon Islands


Australia's Catholic aid agency Caritas has reported that calm has been restored in the Solomon Islands following last week's rioting which triggered Australian police and military intervention.

According to Caritas, the riots following the election of Prime Minister Snyder Rini resulted in most of Chinatown, much of Point Cruz and Kukum, and large parts of Ranandi, being burnt out and many Chinese families losing everything they own.

Adam Elliot, Caritas Australia representative in the Solomon Islands, said that the rioting reached its peak last Wednesday with thousands of people marching to the Governor General's house and presenting a petition demanding the resignation of the new Prime Minister.

The Church responded immediately to those affected by the violence, providing shelter and food to those who had lost their homes and businesses, Caritas said. With security having been restored, steps are now being taken to provide ongoing relief in the region.

Jaime Isbister, Caritas Australia's International Programs Manager, said that although violence seems to have settled in Honiara there is still a lot of tension. For now those on the ground are working to ensure that there are no further outbreaks of violence and that assistance is provided to those in need.

"We've got staff on the ground providing assistance and counselling to those who have been severely affected by the conflict. The Catholic Church is providing temporary shelter on the outskirts of Honiara for those who have lost their houses and businesses and Caritas Australia is now looking at ways of providing further assistance," Mr Isbister said.

The Archdiocese of Honiara has organised a committee of local people to identify what now needs to be done. Bishop Adrian Smith, Catholic Archbishop of Honiara, has expressed hope and concern for the future of The Solomon Islands.

"Pray for The Solomon Islands, this beautiful country seeks nationhood but the road is rocky and muddy," Archbishop Smith said.


SOURCE
Caritas Australia assesses The Solomon Islands (Caritas Australia 24/4/06)

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26 Apr 2006