The Fiji Islands will deploy 50 soldiers to the Australian-led peacekeeping force in the Solomons, after days of riots that have devastated part of the capital Honiara. This was announced today by Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama. This reinforcement will bring the peacekeeping force to nearly 200 soldiers and policemen, mainly Australians with the participation of 34 men from Papua New Guinea.
The Solomon Islands crisis erupted last week with three days of riots in Honiara among a population suffering from poverty, hunger and anger at the government policies of the country of 800,000. The government is accused of being corrupt and accountable to Beijing and other foreign interests. During the riots, in which at least three people were killed, demonstrators tried to burn down the prime minister’s private residence and parliament, before being dispersed by police with tear gas and warning shots. Today, residents of the capital continue to clean up the city, where the Chinese quarter has been reduced to a field of rubble.
In the capital, Honiara, entire neighborhoods were put to fire and sword for three days and nights by a violent revolt against the government, which began with the assault on parliament on Wednesday and culminated last night with the discovery of three dead. After a night of curfew imposed by Governor David Vunagi, the situation in Honiara is described as apparently calm but tense, with some shops escaping the fury of the crowd and some gas stations cautiously opening their doors to allow the weary population to equip themselves. than necessary.
During the night, three charred corpses were found in a shop set on fire in the capital’s Chinatown, where most of the Chinese community lives. Fueled by extreme poverty, hunger and resentment, the revolt against Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s government was mixed with looting and looting by people reduced to the brink of hunger by two years of pandemic, which has accentuated the already severe unemployment prevailing in the Pacific archipelago.
The country now finds itself at the center of a political-diplomatic dispute between China and Taiwan, which has thrown fuel on the fire that is smoldering under the embers of latent but serious ethnic tensions. The 2019 decision by the Sogarave government to cut ties with Taipei, with which the Malaita ethnic group – protagonist of the revolt – as well as the Chinese community, had deep and consolidated ties in favor of Beijing, sparked discontent. The inhabitants of Malaita, the most populous island in the country, who have also built a strong community in Guadalcanal, the island where the capital is located, consider themselves discriminated against and deprived of assistance or investment. A situation worsened by heavy Chinese investments, which arrived on the archipelago after the diplomatic “change of coat” in Sogarave, which – the inhabitants of Malaita complain – only bring jobs to foreigners.
But the entire archipelago of 800,000 inhabitants is plagued by poverty and the revolt that has taken place in recent days has turned into a gigantic free-for-all brawl, in which the local police, assisted by 150 Australian and New Papuan peacekeepers Guinea, who arrived on Thursday, had great difficulty extricating themselves. An estimate by the archipelago’s central bank indicates that at least 56 buildings have been looted and set on fire, damaging hundreds of homes and shops, with very small businesses having seen a year of grueling resumption of business after the pandemic go up in smoke. A loss for the already poor country of at least 24-25 million euros, according to a warning from the Central Bank of the Solomon Islands.