These reports on the progress of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands were first published in the Solomon Star - the national daily newspaper of the Solomon Islands.
Because of the author's position as official photographer to the Australian Federal Police, they naturally have an AFP focus.
second succesful week for RAMSI
Brian Hartigan in Honiara
for the members of the mission has not abated - the biggest advance was
certainly the announcement of the weapons amnesty, which commenced at
midnight on 31 July.
its announcement, which expires at midnight on 21 August, a hectic round
of newspaper and radio announcements, as well as regional visits by key
personnel, was launched to ensure that all people of the Solomon Islands
know about and understand the terms and the purpose of the amnesty.
of the Participating Police Force and Deputy Commissioner of the Royal
Solomon Islands Police Ben McDevitt emphasised to those who thought they
could get away with holding on to guns that RAMSI had the resources, the
capability and the commitment, backed up by the will of the people, to
find guns not handed in by the twenty-first of this month.
more that 100 new police officers arriving here on 15 August. Many of
these are highly trained detectives. From 22 August, they will be actively
engaged in seeking out weapons that have not been handed in during the
amnesty and arresting every person who has not handed in his weapon."
said he had no doubt that the overwhelming majority of the population
of the Solomon Islands wanted this very important step.
time for negotiations and deals has come and gone. Every single gun in
this country must be surrendered," he said.
On a lighter
note, members of RAMSI participated in an Open Day at Town Ground sports
fields on Saturday.
estimated at more than 10,000 men, women and very eager children, welcomed
the opportunity to say "hallo" to their friends from Australia,
New Zealand, PNG, Fiji and Tonga - and, of course, to get a close look
at some of the police and military vehicles and equipment put on display.
All the sights
and sounds of the day certainly entertained the young and the not so young
among the crowd of visitors. For the members of RAMSI who were able to
attend the Open Day, the reception they received and the warmth and sincerity
of the people they spoke to was overwhelming.
was achieved on Wednesday with the opening of a provincial police post
at Avu Avu - the first of a number of police posts that will be opened
around the country in the coming weeks.
The Avu Avu
post is initially staffed by two police officers, but will be strengthened
as more police arrive. They are supported by 50 military personnel, including
infantry, engineers, medical staff and communications troops.
said the opening of this post was an enormous step forward for the community.
of today, this community has a new police post staffed by dedicated, professional
police who are keen and willing to work with the community to help make
Avu Avu a safer place to live," he said.
added he was pleased the post could be set up at such an early stage of
presence of this police post in Avu Avu will build confidence in a community
that has suffered for a long time," he said.
On a fact-finding
visit to gauge the progress of the mission after the first full week on
the ground, Australian and New Zealand Foreign Ministers Alexander Downer
and Phil Goff congratulated the members of RAMSI for the commitment they
had displayed and the success they were enjoying.
however, against getting carried away with success, reminding members
that some difficult and possibly dangerous tasks remained, especially
after the weapons amnesty ends.
The point was not lost on Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza who said, "Every day, from the smallest village to the largest town, we will be praying for their safety as they go about their important work. The men and women of Operation Helpem Fren will assist us to return law and order, to recover our economy and restore the lasting peace."