Natural disasters in Sols taking toll on people
Series of natural disasters in the Solomons is taking its toll on the 10,000 people still in evacuation centres following flash flooding 10 days ago.
Aid agencies in Solomon Islands say a series of natural disasters over the last 10 days is taking a huge psychological toll on people.
Strong earthquakes over the last two days have come as 10,000 people remain in evacuation centres following the recent devastating flash floods, which left 24 people dead and some still unaccounted for.
Mary Baines reports.
The Oxfam Solomon Islands director, Katie Greenwood, says Solomon Islanders have had to deal with flash flooding, big earthquakes and aftershocks, tsunami warnings and the earthquakes in nearby Bouganville last week.
KATIE GREENWOOD: It seems to be a bizarre series of events. Solomon Islanders are an incredibly resilient people, but when you get a series of events happening like this, there really does dent that kind of ability to bounce back as quickly, particularly when we've had the sombering and sober affects of so many deaths.
The emergency manager for Save the Children, Graham Kenna, says the thousands in evacuation centres are living in fear, worried about what might happen next.
GRAHAM KENNA: The three earthquakes we've had recently have really put a lot of fear into people who are sheltering in the evacuation centres. Most of them left the centres to seek higher ground, and they're traumatised enough, but this is making things worse. People are frightened to go back to some of the low-lying areas that flooded and re-establish their lives.
Mr Kenna says it has estimated emergency relief items in-country and in the pipeline to be delivered are only reaching about 30 percent of affected people. He says conditions in the centres are not satisfactory, especially for the 4,000 children living in them.
GRAHAM KENNA: They don't have adequate toilet facilities, they don't have running water. So it is quite a dire situation. It's only a matter of time before disease starts to break out, and we know very well that within a week's time the Dengue Fever epidemic that started prior to the flooding will return.
The Red Cross deputy secretary general, Clement Manuri, says it is not known when the displaced people can go home. He says the government is working on what it calls a repatriation exercise, to help families who want to voluntarily go back to their communities. But he says the Red Cross is concerned about that plan, as there has not been any damage assessment of buildings or discussion of what help families may need when they return.
CLEMENT MANURI: We are really not clear of whether people who are wanting to go back still have their homes in tact, or whether their homes are totally destroyed because there was no damage assessment done, especially for those most affected communities.
World Vision's Dwain Hinriksen, who is based in rural Guadalcanal, says the earthquakes seem to have caused minimal damage to infrastructure.
DWAIN HINRIKSEN: There hasn't been any reports of significant damage, which is great to hear considering the wider context with the flood damage. It is still a very challenging situation, we're still working around the clock to reach affected communities and distribute relief items.
But the provincial police commander for Makira, the province closest to the epicentre of the quake, Peter Sitai, says his post still hasn't heard from some isolated parts of the region. He says it will send a team to assess the full extent of the damage soon. Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission has extended its Biometric Voter Registration process by two weeks because of the recent floods.
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