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New Focus For Solomon Islands Aid

New Zealand’s development assistance programme to Solomon Islands has been overhauled to meet the most pressing needs arising from the ethnic tensions there, Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Associate Minister Matt Robson said today.

For the next six months the existing $NZ8 million programme will now target:
 conflict resolution and peace building;
 meeting humanitarian and urgent development needs in the provinces;
 helping ensure vulnerable groups continue to have basic service delivery.

"The funding will enable New Zealand’s High Commission in Honiara to support local non governmental, community and church groups in their peace building endeavours.

"The on-going conflict has had a serious impact on Solomon Islands economy and its Government is having difficulty funding basic education and health services.

"New Zealand will assist with secondary school grants as a temporary measure over the next six months, to enable schools to re-open for the remainder of the year. Keeping kids in school looking to the future and not roaming the streets with guns is critical.

"Many people have left Honiara because of the security situation there placing strain on the provinces which have to deal with the influx.

"New Zealand will establish a provincial support fund to meet the humanitarian and other needs during the current financial year.

"The fund will be administered on the ground through the New Zealand High Commission in Honiara and be open to provincial authorities, community organisations and church groups.

"Some on-going Solomon Islands development activities have been curtailed because of the current situation, but on going study awards will be maintained, as will some aspects of on-going project activities.

"With the situation changing all the time, we will reassess the appropriateness of the shape of the programme on a regular basis," Mr Goff and Mr Robson concluded.

Ends

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