Peace returns to Solomon Islands, bishop says

Terry Brown, Bishop of Malaita

The following is adapted from a letter to Volunteers in Mission Coordinator Jill Cruse by Anglican Bishop Terry Brown of Malaita in the Solomon Islands.

Just a note from Honiara as I am en route from Auki to South Malaita. I have been staying here with friends and hearing about Honiara’s peace celebrations. Following signing of peace agreement, the rank and file of the two militant groups took peace into their own hands and all came into Honiara for “peace celebrations” which lasted 2 1/2 days, day and night.

In turn the MEF (Malaita Eagle Force) and two residents went out to rural Guadalcanal where they were welcomed. Many tears of repentance and joy. The barriers have come down and there is now free movement. Guadalcanal people have flooded Honiara; the Central Market is full again (great abundance, cheap prices).

A big reconciliation service is planned for the Cathedral on Sunday involving both militant groups and the general public. The Archbishop has cancelled all his overseas travel to be present and involved.

There is still some MEF/Joint Operations/Police presence in Honiara but they have some IFMs (Isatabu Freedom Movement) sleeping and eating with them too. It is not unusual to MEF and IFM walking hand in hand.

Relief supplies are now going out freely. The IFMs and MEFs, having grown up together from childhood on Guadalcanal are now re-cementing their friendship. Europeans present find it all hard to believe but I am not too surprised. Melanesians are good fighters but better reconcilers. The video version of war has been found wanting and now everyone is for peace.


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