22 May 2013

Solomons wantok system not government helps tsunami refugees

4:48 am on 22 May 2013

The premier of the Solomon Islands province devastated by earthquakes and a tsunami earlier this year says the wantok system rather than the government has ensured those hardest hit haven't starved.

Almost four months on from the magnitude eight quake and subsequent tsunami that wreaked havoc in the Temotu capital, Lata, a group of about six hundred people have been forced to return to their flattened coastal settlement.

Father Charles Brown Beu says they are reluctantly building temporary houses in what is known as area four west of the airport until the government finds an alternative piece of land for them.

But he says in the absence of government assistance with food, those people have had to fall back on the wantok system.

"We would have been happier if for those particular people supply of food continued for a couple of months more but that has not been possible. It is this system that has helped in many ways and that is perhaps one of the cushioning factors regarding what has happened, especially in area four."

Father Charles Brown Beu says the government's rehabilitation programme has been too slow.