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DISASTER RELIEF – SOLOMON ISLANDS EARTHQUAKE & TSUNAMI

An earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale struck 345km northwest of the Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara at 0740 local time on 02 April. (2040 GMT 01 April). The earthquake created a tsunami causing casualties and significant damage to the Solomon Islands.

The official death toll stands at 52, including 33 fatalities in Gizo alone. It is estimated that 475 households have been affected for a total of 9,000. A survey of 44 villages has shown that 63% of family homes have been damaged by the disaster. The worst affected village at Ringgi Cove was recorded to have 90% of homes destroyed.

The tsunami has affected the remotest part of the Solomon Islands where communications and access always have been a challenge. These factors, combined with the loss of entire communication system in some areas, are hindering effective supply and distribution of relief supplies.

Survivors can be found living in the high ground and are unwilling to return home due to fear of another tsunami despite assurances that it will not come. Seismologists have indicated that another major earthquake is very unlikely, even with regular magnitude-4 aftershocks. For this reason, many of the displaced in these camps are from homes that were not actually damaged, increasing the numbers in the camps.

Some villages in low-lying areas sustained the full impact of the tsunami wave. Villages on other, more mountainous, islands were damaged by the landslides. These landslides destroyed a large portion of their gardens which supply these fisherman their supplementary diet.

Afraid to resume agricultural work and fishing, villagers fetch water from local streams, close to their encampments and therefore rely on food supplies provided by relief agencies (mainly rice and noodles).

Many communities remain without proper shelter and water supply with many water tanks destroyed. And relief workers resorting to the use of fire trucks to deliver water to the affected populations.

Communities camp out under plastic sheets. Populations living in the IDP camps are facing environmental health risks, particularly from malaria. The camps are also very crowded which results in a lack of privacy and psychosocial distress. Although less affected communities are slowly resuming their day-to-day routine, residents of the worst-affected areas are likely to remain in the IDP camps longer than it was initially expected.

FTH UPDATES

8/6/07

Ps. Fredson, our Solomon Islands relief partner has just returned from the disaster area and filed this report.

Second Mission to Western Province Report.

From 27th May to 3rd June 2007 by Fredson

This is the second team sent into the tsunami zone. There were three of us in the team. Francis seyner, Malson Kunduru and myself. We took another load of relief supplies with us. Thanks to Feed the Hungry of Australia and New Zealand for their continuous support that enable us to continue on to the mission field. Indeed the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few.

On arrival we were met by brother Abel and few other brothers working in Gizo with National Disaster Council Transport. We loaded the supplies to Brother John Prasard’s house where we camped for the rest of the week. This is where the first mission also camped. Also our thanks and appreciation to brother John for using his home.

We spent two days in the camps distributing the goods and sharing the word of God with the people. On Thursday night the brothers in Gizo arranged a combine service and Francis ministered the word of God and I encouraged the church and prayed for some people.

The people are still unsettled. The trauma after earthquake and tsunami is partly responsible. But the main question facing the people now is their future. Where is their future and how safe is their future? In terms of mission it is the great open door for the gospel. As a church we must get involve in the mission field while it is day.

All of us involved one way or another in rebuilding the Western and Choiseul Provinces must ensure we do not create injustice in our dealings. Our dealings must be righteous. We serve a God of justice and we must ensure that his justice is done here in the land.

The needs are great and will continue to be with us. We must rise and believe God for daily provisions to serve in the harvest field. Please pray for the salvation of the people in these areas.

In the areas where we began distributing food… some other Pastors approached me for help… They were disappointed in the current level of support from their government and other people. It seems the people perceive they are not receiving their fair share of available aid & support.

It is my recommendation that food distributions should not be suspended but must continue on till the Government and Province have an alternative plan for them.

These people live on plot of land the Government gave them and ¾ of them had now been washed out by the recent tsunami. It is different compare to people who live on their vast customary lands.

Even the places where they are located now are not suitable for gardening, because they don’t own it and it is also a forestry and coconut plantation.

Some communities make their livelihoods mainly on sea resources and not very much on the land. It would be proper if they be given fishing tools like OBM, canoes, diving gears, nets, eskies etc, in order to restore back their economical lives.

FTH is preparing to send another transfer of funds to meet these current and ongoing needs.

30/4/07

In partnership with Kenneth Copeland Ministries Australia, FTH has sent through another transfer of funds to purchase food, survival equipment, and farming tools.

20/4/07

Murray Frew filed this report last week from his time in the Solomon Islands.

“I Arrived in Honiara on Thursday afternoon April 5, met at airport by the Chief Justice of Solomon Islands and taken to his house where I stayed. I met with the Arch Bishop of the Catholic Church, Adrian Smith as they have churches, people and accommodation the affected area, Gizo, 200 miles west of Honiara and had meetings with several Christian and Government leaders to find the lay of the land and collect as much data as possible.

By Easter Monday the Holy Spirit had given us his strategy and the types of food and goods to get ready. Tuesday I sorted out the supplies and awaited the funds to arrive from Australia. The funds arrived at 2-45pm Thursday. We got the funds from the bank before they closed at 3pm and purchased the supplies.

The supplies were supposed to be flown to Gizo on Friday by French military plane but they pulled out on Thurs. night. I left for Gizo on Saturday afternoon by PNG military aircraft, with the goods to arrive the next day. Due to a few problems with the logistics in NDC the goods did not arrive in Gizo until midday Tuesday 17.

Meanwhile in Gizo I saw the damage to local housing, property etc and a local politician took me to visit 2 camps on tops of hills where Kiribati people from a village on the water were encamped under plastic sheeting etc. Their villages had been destroyed, people missing and dead and loss of all belongings

Background — The Kiribati people were brought to the Solomon Islands by the British as workers in the copra plantations many years ago. and did not return to their home country when the British pulled out. Hence, they have no customary (inherited) land in the Solomon’s and had to reclaim the foreshore and build over the water. They have always been considered the lowest in the social order and have to fight to get a fair share of things. Because of the tsunami they are afraid to build on the water again.

Although we left the decision as to where FTH supplies went to the National Disaster Council we were glad that they discussed things with us and that they agreed to the supplies going to this marginalized group of people.. about 300 people including children are in this group.

RAMSI had their own personnel active monitoring all that was happening. Australia and New Zealand had armed forces in logistics and in conjunction with USA operated 2 helicopters to get the supplies from Gizo to affected islands”   -Murray Frew

4/4/07

“The earthquake has been followed by a series of at least 27 smaller aftershocks, though no further damage has been reported. The Australian Seismological Centre has warned that there is a high possibility of further large earthquakes in the days to come.

3/4/07

An emergency transfer of funds was sent through to the Solomon Islands to purchase food. FTH relief partners in the Pacific, Rhema Family Church Whangarei – New Zealand, dispatching a representative on the next available flight to assess the situation and coordinate relief efforts.

At approximately 7.30am, Monday 2/4/07, an earthquake measuring 8.1 on the richter scale struck just 40km away from the western island of Gizo in the Solomon Islands. It’s believed up 22 people may have been killed, many of them children, by waves measuring 3-9 meters in height – sweeping 500m inland. Tsunami warnings were issued as far north as Hawaii, and as far south as Tasmania.

YOU CAN HELP!

The Solomon Islands Disaster relief has moved from the emergency to recovery phase. With many crops destroyed, a great reluctance to return to the sea, and living in makeshift refugee camps, there is still a great need to support the Solomon Islands survivors.

Your gift today will help restore hope to a nation in fear.

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