30 Nov 2012

Solomons priest worried about RAMSI departure

11:49 am on 30 November 2012

A Solomon Islands anglican priest says many people are worried about what will happen when all RAMSI soldiers have left the country.

Today marks the departure of what is expected to be the final contingent of New Zealand troops to the regional assistance mission, the 16th New Zealand platoon since 2003 when RAMSI was first deployed to restore order after several years of civil conflict.

While officials say the country is in a stable enough position to cope with the withdrawal of soldiers, RAMSI police will remain for at least the next four years working with the local force to ensure it is strong enough to deal with problems of law and order.

But Deacon Erick Tevaiola says there is widespread uncertainty about what will happen when the soldiers are gone.

"That is a big question for all of us to ask, will the people be peaceful as once upon a time it was before, before the ethnic tensions. But now you can hear what happens every day in the media, there are many rape cases coming out, stealings going on. I only wish that the soldiers will stay for a little bit more longer, maybe for another four to five years."

Deacon Erick Tevaiola says some of the problems stem from the number of unemployed youth.