OCEANIA/SOLOMON ISLAND - Religious leaders and Catholic Archbishop of Honiara call for reconciliation. The Church assists victims of disorder last week

Wednesday, 26 April 2006

Honiara (Fides Service) - Religious leaders in Solomon Islands launched an appeal for peace and reconciliation following disorder in recent days. Condemning all forms of violence the religious leaders said the country needs harmony and that social conflict must be avoided at all costs. A call for peace and forgiveness was also issued by the Catholic Archbishop of Honiara Adrian Smith. During Mass celebrated at Holy Cross Church the Archbishop said “the people of Honiara must ask forgiveness for the damaged caused to Chinese immigrants and offer them a message of peace”.
Archbishop Adrian Smith said he prayed for the country and was concerned for the future of Solomons. He asked individual Catholics, parishes, associations not to let themselves be misled by certain criminal groups which want to plunge the country back into crisis, conflict and violence. The archbishop condemned the sacking and looting saying it was the fruit of anger among a few of the people but not the majority.
Calm has returned in Solomons but tension is still high. The civil society is preparing to show its lack of confidence in the new prime minister with a popular petition for his resignation.
In the meantime the local Church assisted by Caritas Australia has been assisting people suddenly made homeless when homes and shops were destroyed in riots 19 and 20 April in the capital Honiara.
Adam Elliot of Caritas Australia said food, tents and other aid had been distributed to the displaced families. Honiara archdiocese set up a special Committee to assess the situation, identify needs and decide where and how to intervene. Disorder broke out when parliament elected as new prime minister Snyder Rini connected with the previous government and accused of corruption and embezzlement.
Military forces called in to stop the disorder still patrol the streets and guard government buildings. Australia and New Zealand have increased their military presence in Solomons, now over 350 men to guarantee greater security. The intervention of the military restored order and most public services have resumed. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 26/4/2006 righe 28 parole 287