ASSISTANCE FOR DISPLACED PEOPLE IN SOLOMON ISLANDS

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By Imo Ueteri-Taasi

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (April 27, 2000 - Solomon Star/PINA Nius Online)---A project worth more than SI $3 million (US$ 599,401) will soon get off the ground to assist displaced families on Guadalcanal and Malaita.

It is the Guadalcanal and Malaita Provinces Rehabilitation Program, to be implemented by World Vision and funded by the European Union.

But it will assist only 2,000 families, or a total of about 8,000 people who have been displaced as a result of the social unrest on Guadalcanal. Recent reports have estimated that at least 30,000 people have been displaced because of the tension.

Representatives of World Vision explained the project to the Minister of Development Planning, Fred Fono, and his top officers, as well as representatives of the European Union and the deputy premier of Malaita province, Benjamin Harohau.

No representatives from the Guadalcanal Province attended the briefing, although they had also been invited.

Introducing the project, the leader of World Vision's coordinating team, Tevita Ravumaidama from Fiji, said the project was initiated by their organization in the Netherlands and presented to the European Union.

He added that it could not be implemented in October of last year, as originally planned, due to funds not being available then. Now that the funds are accessible, he said, the project will be initiated soon.

Ravumaidama said World Vision is very happy to be part of this program, adding that "It is a challenge to us."

He said the project is to be implemented with the assistance of the respective provincial authorities.

Recently the World Vision team went to the rural areas of both provinces to explain to the people the project's objectives.

In his remarks, Minister Fono said they were very happy to have this project in order to assist the displaced people. "It will be a model for future projects to be implemented by not only the government but non-governmental organizations like World Vision," Fono added.

But the minister said it was a pity that this project was not implemented at the height of the tension when people were really in need of assistance.

He also regretted that sago palm leaves are being provided under the project instead of iron roofing for houses.

He requested that iron roofing for the project be reconsidered. "This will help a lot, especially on Malaita where the rainfall is very high annually," Fono added.

Fono said several projects, to be implemented by non-governmental organizations, are in the pipeline to assist other displaced people.

What system is being used to identify families to benefit from the project?

Ravumaidama said this is determined by working closely with the provincial authorities and communities.

He said the materials will be purchased in Honiara and transported to the two provinces and distributed from specially designated points.

He said they are implementing a system that will ensure that the materials are not abused or given to the wrong people.

The Malaita Province deputy premier suggested that World Vision work very closely with the Women's Office in Auki.

Minister Fono cautioned World Vision to be careful of certain people who were not displaced but claimed to be in order to take advantage of the assistance.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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