13 Feb 2006

Malaita premier confirms islanders facing starvation

2:38 pm on 13 February 2006

The premier of Malaita in Solomon Islands has confirmed that people are facing starvation in parts of the province.

Robin Moli says information he has received from the remote atolls over two-way radio leaves him in little doubt there is a problem.

Premier Moli says that about a thousand people could be affected in Luaniua and up to six hundred in Sikaiana.

"The islands do not normally grow crops that are grown on the mainland. They only grow swamp taro and if that is damaged by this last storm, then that's it. That's the only source of food. So I would say that the information that we received here is quite accurate and the shortage of food must be real, that's why they have expressed that to the government."

Robin Moli says because shipping to the two islands is infrequent, they haven't been able to send anyone to the atolls yet to assess the problem.

The premier fears that if they have to wait for such an assessment, assistance will take too long and he says urgent action by the National Disaster council is needed.