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Solomon Islands: A logistical challenge

22-03-2001 News Release 01/11

Following surveys late last year to assess the needs of people displaced by fighting, ICRC staff last week carried out a relief distribution for some 1,000 families living in two provinces of the Solomon Islands: Temotu, about 700 kilometres east of the capital Honiara, and Rennell and Bellona to the south.

To help displaced people regain their self-sufficiency, tarpaulins, jerrycans, fishing lines and hooks, seeds and agricultural tools were packaged into family kits and transported by ship to these isolated islands (the voyage to Temotu takes over 60 hours).

The only way to get around the small island of Bellona is on foot or on a bicycle, and the only link with the outside world is by radio. To ensure that the local population was informed of the relief operation, the ICRC had it announced over the national radio service. The intended beneficiaries were therefore on hand to collect the packages when these were brought ashore in canoes.

James Reynolds, the ICRC’s head of mission in Honiara, explained that following the ethnic tension on Guadalcanal last year, and the resulting closure of major places of employment, many people had been forced to return to their home islands. The result had been a marked population increase on certain islands, and this was placing a strain on local resources.