By EDDIE OSIFELO
GOVERNMENT is being urged to reopen the international border between Solomon Islands and Bougainville next week.
This comes in light of reports that people in Shortlands are facing a humanitarian crisis, forcing some of them to illegally cross over to Bougainville to sell their products and buy foods.
Police in Bougainville arrested them at Buin for breaching the Covid-19 protocol put in place by both countries.
Chief of Staff, Robson Djokovic confirmed this during a press conference yesterday.
Djokovic said they are finalising border reopening strategy, that include Malaita Outer Islands and Temotu, but priority is Shortlands.
He said Government is liasing with its counterpart in Papua New Guinea and plans to ease restrictions until the reopening of border in July.
As part of addressing the humanitarian issues faced by the people of Shortlands, government has sent relief supplies on Monday.
Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM), Dr Melchior Mataki confirmed that the short term relief supplies include 30 tonnes of rice and 80 cartons of soltuna products.
Mataki, also chairman of National Disaster Council, said the food relief is not made out of thin air.
He said Provincial Disaster Operating Center, made up of technical agencies in Western province, needed proper assessment and put to NDOC, and food relief made.
He said the food supplies to cover all 23 communities including Mono island as well.
Mataki said there is understanding reached between PDOC Western province and communities that distributions based on households and started already.