The final anniversary of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands has been celebrated in conjunction with the start of a yam festival.
The multi-country mission has spent the last 13 years working to rebuild the Solomons which was brought to its knees by a bloody ethnic conflict which began in 1998 and ended with the mission’s arrival.
The mission, which is due to depart the country in June next year, accepted an invitation from the people of Small Malaita to take part in the inaugural launch of their Yam Cultural Festival on Sunday which coincided with the RAMSI anniversary.
Speaking during the celebrations the mission’s special co-ordinator Quinton Devlin said “RAMSI had been invited by the Solomon Islands Government in 2003 to restore law and order; to stabilise the country’s finances; and, to re-start the machinery of government.
He said significant progress on all three fronts has enabled RAMSI to draw down over several years and, since 2013, to focus solely on police capacity development.
Mr Devlin said it was now time for RAMSI to depart -as agreed – on 30 June 2017 and for policing support from the Pacific region to normalise.
As part of the 13th anniversary celebrations in Small Malaita, RAMSI also donated sewing machines to the Matangasi Mothers Union and sports equipment to the Maka Primary School.
A team from the Office of the Special Co-ordinator also joined the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force Community Policing team to talk throughout the week with festival goers about RAMSI’s drawdown, the staged limited rearmament of the RSIPF and other policing and security issues.
Sports activities were also organised to mark RAMSI’s anniversary.