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NZ Assistance For Solomon Islands

MEDIA STATEMENT

16 June 1999

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Zealand has sent tarpaulins to provide temporary accommodation for people forced from their homes by ethnic tensions in the Solomon Islands, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Lockwood Smith said today.

Dr Smith said that 900 tarpaulins were being sent on board an RNZAF Hercules which is making a routine supply flight to the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville. Space for the tarpaulins was made available on the flight which is passing through the Capital of the Solomon Islands, Honiara.

"The tarpaulins were sent in response to a written request for assistance from the Solomon Islands Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu, and will be delivered to the Solomon Islands Red Cross," Dr Smith said.

Ethnic tensions on the main island of Guadalcanal has resulted in the displacement of around 2000 people originally from the neighbouring island of Malaita, and it is feared that up to 10,000 more could be forced from their homes. The Solomon Islands Red Cross has taken the lead role in providing assistance to the displaced persons.

"Shelter has been identified as a priority need," Dr Smith said.

"These tarpaulins will assist the Solomons Islands Red Cross in carrying out its critical humanitarian role in this emergency," Dr Smith concluded.

ENDS

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