Solomons tsunami refugees forced back to seashore
Home rehabilitation in Solomon Islands' Temotu province no further ahead almost four months on from devastating tsunami.
Residents of Santa Cruz island in the Solomon Islands province hit by earthquakes and a tsunami in February have been forced to return to their flattened coastal settlement.
At least 10 people were killed and thousands displaced after a magnitude-eight quake generated waves that smashed through seaside villages of Temotu province, destroying homes and infrastructure.
Temotu's premier, Father Charles Brown Beu, says overseas aid is assisting the rehabilitation of schools, livelihoods and agricultural crops, but the government rehabilitation programme has been too slow.
He told Annell Husband about 600 people have had to return to the coast because there is nowhere else for them to live.
FATHER CHARLES BROWN BEU: They really are not comfortable, I understand. And I am not comfortable myself. But we're banking on the situation that the tsunami doesn't come back in a number of years and soon. I don't know how true this would be, but that's what the experts have told us, and we're banking on that advice.
ANNELL HUSBAND: I thought there was going to be some efforts made by the government to secure some land for those people.
CBB: That was the understanding from the plans, initially, when I had a meeting with him as a member of the national staff management office council. But, as normal, things are not easy in coming, and that has yet to eventuate.
AH: So you talked about agriculture sectors - people are working in that area. Have people now got enough to eat? Have they been able to regrow some crops?
CBB: Yes. In fact, people have already started to grow things. Cabbages and other vegetables and beans and things have already been harvested. The long-term fruit crops are yet to be harvested, but bananas are OK. I think the most affected area in terms of foodstuffs would be the people of Area 4. I would have been happier if, for those particular people, supplies of food continued for a couple of months more, but the last month that has not been possible. For myself as the premier, the government has not been able - that's the provincial government - has not been able to assist to that effect. But individuals have been assisting them like it's traditional in Temotu provincial culture.
AH: So they have actually managed to not go without food because they've had that Wantok help?
CBB: Yeah. It is this system that has helped in many ways, either Wantok, or a relation, a friend is without food, people easily lend a hand. And that is perhaps one of the cushioning factors regarding what has happened, especially in Area 4.
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