A 37 member security team from Papua New Guinea has arrived in the Solomon Islands to exclusively protect key government properties.
Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare made a call to PNG counterpart James Marape to ask for help to control civil unrest from protesters that extended to vandalism in Honiara.
PNG police commissioner David Manning said the public order management personnel including 14 correctional service officers were on a mission to contain the situation and ensure normality returned to the country’s capital.
Many residents of Honiara, including PNG citizens, welcomed the troops during a tour of the city on Saturday before starting their operations.
The handpicked security team include 20 police from the special services division and national capital district public safety.
Manning said the country’s engagement in the Solomon Islands was to focus on the safety of Henderson International Airport.
The PNG personnel had specifically been trained for the 2018 Asia-Pacific economic cooperation meetings and will provide necessary tactical expertise needed by Solomon Islands police.
“At this stage, we only provide manpower assistance and if need be, will continue to do so,” Mr Manning said.
“This assistance is through a police-to-police arrangement and the deployment is covered under the Royal Solomon Islands police rules of engagement.
“It is our duty to protect life and property and we have extended our generosity to our brothers and sisters, and importantly to preserve peace and enhance posterity within the Pacific region.”
Mr Manning, who was accompanied by special services division director, Supt Julius Tasion, had a meeting with his counterpart Mostyn Mangau.
Help in the Solomon Islands have been supported from Australia and New Zealand, and Mr Manning anticipated that the situation in Honiara will be brought under control soon.
“During my briefing with my counterpart, Mostyn Mangau, he said the intention of local police on the ground with assistance from Australia and PNG personnel, is to address the domestic law and order issue first before focusing on international issues at hand,” Mr Manning said.
“The PNG security team has been assigned to keeping watch of the airport premises, which was the first task on arrival.
“What the team will do now in partnership with their colleagues in Honiara is, to identify the hotspots and get the church and community leaders to walk in and talk to the people; police to secure important government premises; crowd control measures to be enforced, and to have an open dialogue with the people.”
PNG was part of the Australian-led regional assistance mission to the Solomon Islands in 2004 following an ethnic conflict.
According to details released, companies and their premises had been destroyed as a result of the riots.
Key food suppliers in Honiara were affected and food shortages are expected to be imminent in the coming days.
Most food wholesalers, supermarkets and other related grocery stores have also been affected by the civil unrest.
Things have got so desperate that the eastern parts of Honiara have sought food supplies from the western side of the city.