Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands: Government pledges to assist tsunami survivors

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By Deli Oso/PM Press Secretary

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has assured the nation of the government's commitment to ensure the survivors of the April 2 earthquake and tsunami are assisted till their lives are normalised.

Mr Sogavare gave the assurance at the ecumenical service held in the capital yesterday to remember those who lost their lives in the double disaster and to pray for the thousands of homeless and traumatized survivors.

He said he wanted the people in the two disaster-stricken provinces of Western and Choiseul to know that they were not alone in their time of distress.

"There are people who care and would love to wrap their arms around those who suffer and personally assure them that they are not forgotten.

"The Grand Coalition for Change Government will not rest until we are satisfied that the victims of the tsunami are assisted to return their lives to normalcy," Mr Sogavare said.

The Prime Minister described the April 2 disasters as the worst natural disasters ever in the history of Solomon Islands.

He said the disasters created a permanent void in the lives of the survivors as precious lives and properties worth millions of dollars were destroyed only in a matter of minutes by a friend and source of livelihood for Solomon Islanders.

"The very sea that had always been a friend and a source of livelihood for the more than 500,000 Solomon Islanders turned against the people of Western and Choiseul Provinces in the most cruel way.

"It is this intimate relationship that we have with the sea since time immemorial that makes this experience very bitter for our people. It is like a friend turning against a friend," Prime Minister Sogavare said.

Prime Minister Sogavare said he had witnessed the extent of the destructions caused by the earthquake and tsunami during his tour of the Western and Choiseul provinces last week and his heart was overwhelmed with sympathy just by looking and talking to the victims and listening to their testimonies.

However, he said he was encouraged by their determination to rebuild their lives and on this note encouraged all other Solomon Islanders to acknowledge the stamina and render them support.

Mr Sogavare paid tribute to those who have either risked or lost their lives to save others during the recent national tragedies and added that the saviours would be numbered amongst other Solomon Islands national heroes.

One of the heroes in the recent double disaster the Prime Minister made mention of was a six year-old lad in Titiana village near the Western Provincial Township, Gizo who lost his life whilst trying to save his three-year-old sister.

Prime Minister Sogavare, meanwhile, acknowledged the Premiers of the Western and Choiseul Provinces for the strong leadership they had demonstrated in the trying times as well as the public servants posted to the two disaster-devastated provinces for the emergency relief operation for faithfully discharging their duties.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged the National Disaster Management Council, the Red Cross and other Non-governmental Organisations for diligently administering the relief operation.

Mr Sogavare thanked those in the country who have initiated their own fundraising drives in aid of the disaster-affected people.

He also thanked the international communities and institutions, including the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, for standing by the government to help restore normalcy to the lives of thousands of Solomon Islanders victimised by the disasters.

The official earthquake and tsunami death toll stands at 52 but the figure is expected to rise as people are still reported missing.