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Solomon Islands: ICRC crosses front line

05-07-1999 News Release 99/42

Geneva (ICRC) - For the past month the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been working to protect and assist people affected by the recent disturbances in the Solomon Islands, in the South Pacific. On 5 July, the organization for the first time delivered relief supplies across the front lines in Guadalcanal province.

Three ICRC vehicles loaded with rice, canned tuna, plastic sheeting, soap and detergent left the country's capital Honiara and travelled to the rural area where fighters of the Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army are located.

The supplies are intended for some 1,000 civilians who have had to flee Honiara because of their origins. With its four-member team, the ICRC is for the moment the sole organization allowed to carry out cross-line operations, having hitherto been authorized to deliver only medicines and bandages for medical facilities in the area concerned.

Since tension began to rise in early June, the ICRC and the Solomon Islands Red Cross have helped some 5,500 people from both Guadalcanal and Malaita to travel by boat either to their islands of origin or other parts of Guadalcanal accessible only by sea.