RED CROSS SUSPENDS ACTIVITIES IN SOLOMON ISLANDS FOLLOWING ATTACK

admin's picture

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (October 11, 2000 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---The International Committee of the Red Cross has suspended all its relief activities in the Solomon Islands.

It took the decision following an attack on its team at Marapa, in which a Swiss International Committee of the Red Cross delegate was injured and had to be evacuated overseas for medical treatment.

A statement from the Red Cross confirmed that uniformed and armed men carried out the attack on a distributing team and all their relief materials were stolen.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it condemned such acts of violence against its personnel and appealed to all parties that the attackers be brought to justice.

The statement said unless security is guaranteed from all parties of the conflict, Red Cross relief activities in the country will remain suspended.

It said Red Cross staff, the emblem and international humanitarian law must be respected even in war zones.

(Background: A cease-fire in Solomon Islands follows ethnic conflict which engulfed Guadalcanal, the island on which the capital, Honiara, is located. Peace talks started aboard a New Zealand navy ship off Honiara, and are now continuing in Townsville, Australia.

The ethnic conflict began when Guadalcanal militants tried to drive out settlers from another island, Malaita, claiming they dominated government and business and were taking over Guadalcanal land.

Honiara has been under the control of a joint operation of the Malaita Eagle Force militia and elements of the paramilitary police field force. The Guadalcanal countryside is largely under the control of Guadalcanal's Isatabu Freedom Movement militia.)

Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has stressed before the 130 delegates to the Townsville peace talks that his country is committed to fund a peace deal for the Solomon Islands.

Mr. Downer reiterated his country's commitment at a dinner he hosted for the delegates after their arrival.

The two co-chairmen of the talks, Sir Peter Kenilorea and Paul Tovua, spoke at the opening yesterday.

They said it's the desire of everyone to arrive at a peace agreement.

Mr. Tovua said the fate of the Solomon Islands and the future well being of Solomon Islanders rests in the hands of the parties at the talks.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza cautioned that people should not expect that any peace agreement will provide all the answers to their problems in relation to rehabilitation and reconciliation programs.

Both spokesman for the Isatabu Freedom Movement and Malaita Eagle Force acknowledged the importance of securing a lasting peace.

The meeting was told that the spokesman for the Isatabu Freedom Movement is Tarcisius Tara.

Meanwhile, the Malaita Eagle Force warned that criminal elements who threaten the lives of people in Honiara will be dealt with severely.

Malaita Eagle Force spokesman Andrew Nori warned that criminals who break the law will be countered with seriousness, and anyone who uses weapons in robbery, if caught, and if threatening lives, may be shot.

He warned those who intend to cause disturbances to the civilian community in Honiara to think twice, and to refrain from any criminal activities, because there are crack platoons remaining in Honiara to assist the police maintain law and order.

For additional reports from the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

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

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment