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Solomon Islands Celebrate Ramsi Achievements

Solomon Islands Celebrate Ramsi Achievements

Celebrations have marked the first anniversary of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands which has transformed the security environment since its deployment in July 2003.

Defence Minister Robert Hill, who is in Honiara representing the Australian Government, said it was pleasing to see the progress that has been made in the past year to restore law and order and stability.

"Prior to RAMSI law and order had broken down and people were subject to intimidation and violence," Senator Hill said.

"I am pleased that the security situation has advanced to the stage where the RAMSI anniversary can be celebrated freely in communities throughout the Solomon Islands.

"The men and women of the ADF who have been deployed as part of Operation Anode have done an outstanding job in assisting the police bring stability and they are to be commended for the professional military skills they have contributed.

"In less than 12 months almost 3000 arrests have been made including many key militants and more than 3700 guns have been collected and destroyed. The mission is continuing to work with the Solomon Islands Government on long-term reforms to help re-build government institutions and the economy."

Senator Hill and Chief of Defence Force Peter Cosgrove will today meet with ADF personnel taking part in a RAMSI anniversary parade through Honiara. The parade includes community representatives, local police and government employees, schools, businesses and RAMSI police force and military contingents. The parade will be followed by a number of official functions hosted by the Solomon Islands Government.

Senator Hill and General Cosgrove, together with a number of Solomon Islands and visiting regional dignitaries, will also attend a farewell parade for military personnel who will soon leave the Solomon Islands.

"While the progress made so far has allowed a further draw-down of personnel, an Australian-led military component will remain to support RAMSI and the participating police force for as long as is necessary," Senator Hill said.

In August 2003 there were over 1700 military personnel serving in RAMSI to support police. There are now 500 serving in the country. The ADF gradual draw-down commenced in November last year. The latest draw-down will leave around 100 troops in Solomon Islands at the end of August.

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