31 Oct 2002

Solomon Islands government sends help to Weather Coast

12:03 pm on 31 October 2002

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister has confirmed that people on the remote Weather Coast are in dire need of medical supplies, food and clothing.

The Weather Coast has been the stronghold of rebel leader Harold Keke e but over the past three weeks police have made the first concerted effort to arrest him, following a request from civilians in the region.

Yesterday the Police Commissioner Morton Sireheti appealed to NGOs and the public for help for the people who he says have been deprived of essentials for more than two years.

The Prime Minister Sir Allen Kemakeza says the National Disaster Council is now involved in helping the people in the region.

He says they have appealed to aid donors and Taiwan has provided around 120 thousand US dollars of assistance.

The Prime Minister says this aid has allowed the government to send a ship carrying food supplies to the coast.

Sir Allen says 31 Weather Coast villagers, in need of medical help, have been taken to the National Referral Hospital in Honiara, while a medical team has been sent there.

Meanwhile police and the Government refuse to comment on the campaign to capture Keke, which involves a force of about 40.

Earlier this week there were unconfirmed reports that Keke was using villagers as human shields.