- Solomon Islands riots have left 3 dead, most of Chinatown destroyed.
- Mission compound and churches in Honiara, Solomon Islands’ capital, are undamaged so far.
- Church leaders urging members to steer clear of the protests.
01 December 2021 | Under the slogan, “Hands and Feet of Jesus,” young people from churches in Solomon Islands volunteered to clean up some of the mess and damage caused by four days of civil unrest in that country, according to an article from the Adventist Record.
On Nov. 24, 2021, a protest march toward Solomon Islands’ Parliament Building descended into looting and violence, causing an estimated $A35 million damage (USD $24.9 million).
According to an Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) situation report, most of Chinatown, businesses in East Honiara, a bank and two schools were destroyed or damaged. Three bodies were found in a burnt-out shop in Chinatown, and more than a thousand people are estimated to be left unemployed by the destruction.
The government imposed a 36-hour lockdown to keep people off the streets.
But by Nov. 28, 2021, young people from Burnscreek, Kukum, Naha and Mamulele churches in Honiara, Solomon Islands’ capital, split up throughout the area to begin the clean-up work.
ADRA Solomon Islands (SI) provided water to the Adventist youth groups, who focused on cleaning up the main road coming into Honiara from the airport.
On Nov. 29, 2021, ADRA SI worked with PWDSI (People with Disabilities Solomon Islands) to deliver care packages to the disabled throughout Eastern Honiara, the area most impacted by the riots.
According to the article, some people weren’t able to get food or support because of the rioting, the destruction of nearby shops, and the snap lockdown (less than two hours’ notice was given).
On Nov. 26, 2021, Solomon Islands Mission (SIM) President Dr. Silent Tovosia told Adventist Record that the feeling was tense and people in Honiara felt helpless as they waited for police to restore law and order.
Much of the looting was in the eastern part of Honiara where the businesses are located. Chinatown in central Honiara appears to have been specifically targeted, as most shops were torched, said Tovosia.
No Adventist property has been reported damaged, although some Adventist business owners may have been impacted.
Tovosia said none of the buildings at the SIM compound had been burned or damaged. Kukum Adventist church, the largest church in the Trans-Pacific Union Mission, was undamaged, as were the other 15 organized churches.
“It seems the targets are more political,” said Tovosia.
The Chinese community was targeted partly due to the government’s decision to switch diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China in 2019, a move that angered some communities in the aid-dependent nation, according to a Guardian article.
Mobs also attempted to burn down Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s home.
Church leaders are urging members to steer clear of the protests, and instead to offer support to those who have been impacted. The SI Mission has also offered its campground facilities for those in need, to provide temporary accommodation.
“[Church members] have been encouraged to pray,” said Tovosia. “They should be helping to support the families affected by the riot as much as possible.”
ADRA is coordinating response efforts in collaboration with other non-government agencies. Greg Young from ADRA South Pacific Division said ADRA is considering a proposal to fund 150 food and hygiene kits.
To donate visit: www.adra.org.au/disasters.
This article was edited by AT staff.
(Photo: Adventist youth helped clean up Honiara, the capital of Solomons Islands, on Nov. 28, 2021, after a protest march toward Solomon Islands’s Parliament Building descended into 4 days of looting and violence. Photo via Adventist Record screenshot)