24 Jul 2013

Solomon Islands marks 10 years of RAMSI

4:31 am on 24 July 2013

The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands marks its 10th anniversary today coinciding with its formal downsizing to a policing-only operation.

RAMSI, as it was dubbed soon after the 2003 deployment of hundreds of soldiers, police and civilians from Australia and New Zealand, followed repeated requests for help from the Solomon Islands government after five years of civil conflict known as the ethnic tensions.

Annell Husband is in the capital Honiara.

"Today is the second of three days of celebrations of RAMSI's achievements over the decade - most notably the restoration of law and order, which began soon after the arrival of soldiers and the removal of militants' weapons."

But there is general consensus that RAMSI has made a concrete difference in a number of other areas, including the strengthening of the police and the machinery of government.

RAMSI's leaders have always emphasised the regional nature of the intervention and today's events involve the presentation of gifts to leaders of several of the Pacific Island countries whose soldiers and police have taken part.

RAMSI's special co-ordinator Nicholas Coppel says it is important that the nation doesn't forget how bad things were at the height of the tensions.

But there seems little chance of that, with the trauma of the atrocities suffered by ordinary people caught up in the conflict still very fresh in their minds and little sign that a formal reconciliation process will be completed any time soon.