Thursday, 24 April 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Fighting in Slavyansk, Ukraine

Fighting as Ukrainian armored vehicles enter defiant Slavyansk




Fighting has reportedly erupted just outside Slavyansk. Shootout has started between members of the Slavyansk self-defense and unknown gunmen, anti-government activists say.

Around 40 minutes ago fighting started on the outskirts of Slavyansk,” one of the leaders of self-defense forces, Miroslav Rudenko , told Interfax. We are checking reports of one dead and one injured. There are shootings at a number of checkpoints at some of Slavyansk exit-roads.”







Fighting erupts near east Ukraine city of Slavyansk


Fighting has reportedly erupted just outside Slavyansk, close to the town of Svyatogorsk, taken under control by Ukrainian troops on Wednesday.



RT,
24 April, 2014


A shootout has begun between members of the Slavyansk self-defense and unknown gunmen, anti-government activists say.

Around 40 minutes ago fighting started on the outskirts of Slavyansk,” one of the leaders of self-defense forces, Miroslav Rudenko, told Interfax. “There are shootings at a number of checkpoints at some of the Slavyansk exit-roads.”

Unknown gunmen earlier attacked a checkpoint near Slavyansk in eastern Ukraine. Two people were killed, local self-defense forces spokesperson Stella Horosheva told RT.

Unfortunately, the reports of a shooting have been confirmed,” Horosheva said. “Every night some sort of an incident takes place at one of our checkpoints. This time suspicious armed people were passing by and the self-defense members approached them to check their IDs. But the gunmen opened fire.”

Horosheva said that self-defense forces were investigating the incident, trying to find out who was behind the attack.



Almost simultaneously there appeared reports of unknown gunmen opening fire in the city of Artyomovsk, Donetsk Region.

"
Artyomovsk is not calm now, there’s shooting. No information yet of casualties or injured,” a representative of the self-defense forces told Interfax over the phone.
Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, meanwhile, says about a hundred unidentified militants attacked a military unit near Artyomovsk.

Attackers were shooting with machine-guns, grenade guns and were active in using fragmentation hand grenades,” the ministry’s statement says, adding that Ukrainian troops managed to repel the attack.

On Wednesday, authorities in Kiev announced they were resuming a military operation against protesters in eastern Ukraine, which they describe as an ‘anti-terrorist’ initiative.

Law enforcement agencies are working on the eradication of all groups currently active in Kramatorsk, Slavyansk and other cities of the Donetsk and the Lugansk Regions,” coup-appointed First Vice-President Vitaly Yarema told journalists.
Protesters have pointed out the move was contrary to the agreement on de-escalation reached in Geneva.
The same day, the Ukrainian radical neo-fascist Right Sector group announced that it is moving its main headquarters from Kiev to Dnepropetrovsk to “closely monitor” developments in the east.

I moved my headquarters to Dnepropetrovsk. The purpose is to prevent the spread of the Kremlin infection,” Ukrainian presidential candidate and Right Sector leader Dmitry Yarosh said.

Yarosh, placed by Russia on an international most wanted terrorist list, also announced that he had begun to establish a special squad of fighters called ‘Donbass’.

We coordinate all of our actions with the leadership of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Security Service of Ukraine,” Yarosh said.



Faking it


Fact-Check Fail: False Kerry & MSM claims on 'Russians in Ukraine'


Pictures presented by Washington and Kiev as evidence of Russia's involvement in Ukraine have backfired on the White House & State dept. One of the photos, labeled as taken in Russia, was actually taken in Ukraine. That's what the photographer who took it says, and the U.S. State Department admits the error. RT's Anastasia Churkina reports.


Cyber shock


Cybergeddon? Survey warns of internet disruption on scale of 2008 crisis
The world is on the verge of a cyber shock “similar to the 2008 financial crisis,” a new study says, outlining major triggers for potential disruption and urging governments and organizations to learn from the experience gained during the credit crunch




RT,
23 April, 2014

Zurich Insurance has drawn a parallel between the mortgage market problems, which resulted in the global financial crisis seven years ago, and a potential major cloud provider failure, the consequences of which might be just as grave.

Just imagine if a major cloud service provider had a ‘Lehman moment’, with everyone’s data there on Friday and gone on Monday,” the report written by the Swiss insurance group in cooperation with the Atlantic Council think tank says. “If that failure cascaded to a major logistics provider or company running critical infrastructure, it could magnify a catastrophic ripple running throughout the real economy in ways difficult to understand, model or predict beforehand.

Problems in the US sub-prime mortgage market in 2008 led to banking crisis which later resulted in a global economic downturn.

The current “interconnected nature of the internet” leads to the increasing danger of cyber risks, spurring similar type of scenario.

Few people truly understand their own computers or the internet, or the cloud to which they connect, just as few truly understood the financial system as a whole or the parts to which they are most directly exposed,” Chief Risk Officer at Zurich Insurance, Axel Lehmann, said in a statement.

The new study says part of the problem in 2008 was that before the credit crunch “
risks were assessed by financial institutions individually” and urges governments and organizations not to repeat the same mistake when it comes to tackling cyber threats.

The study warns people against being misled by the fact “
the internet has been incredibly resilient (and generally safe) for the past few decades.” With the system getting ever more complex and ever more connected to real life, bigger shocks to it are unavoidable.

A company should no longer focus primarily on its own internal cyber security as an threat might be coming from outsourced services it’s getting or from its suppliers. Those are on the list of the 
seven “risk pools” the study outlines.
Seven hundred and forty million data files were potentially exposed or stolen worldwide in 2013, making the year the worst in terms of the internet security thus far, according to the statistics given by the Online Trust Alliance and cited in the survey, which warns that the situation is only going to become aggravated.

While our society’s reliance on the internet grows exponentially, our control of it only grows linearly, limited by outdated government procedures and ineffective governance.

One of the major proposals in the report is supporting the idea put forward earlier by Microsoft, of establishing a G20+20 group, 20 governments and 20 global information and communications technology firms – to work out ways of ensuring viable security in cyberspace.


Op-Ed


The US plan for the Ukraine - a hypothesis

The Vineyard Saker,

23 April, 2014


Listening to Lavrov today I came to the conclusion that the regime in Kiev was indeed about to try to attack the eastern Ukraine. It's not only Lavrov, the Russian Internet is on "red alert" and chock-full of rumors and speculation about an imminent attack. This begs a number of questions:



1) Why would the junta in Kiev so overtly renege on the Geneva agreement?
2) Why would it attack when the chances of success are very small?
3) Why would they attack know that Russia would almost certainly intervene?
4) Why is the US clearly behind that strategy?


I have a hypothesis which I would like to submit to your attention.


First, the junta in Kiev is reneging on the Geneva agreement simply because it cannot abide by its terms. Remember, the junta is composed of a few politicians handpicked by the US and a few Ukrainian oligarchs. They do have money, but no power. How could they possibly impose anything in the well-armed and determined freaks of the Right Sector?


Second, the eastern Ukraine is lost no matter what. So the junta in Kiev have to pick on of the following options:


a) Let the eastern Ukraine leave by means of referendum and do nothing about it.
b) Let the eastern Ukraine leave but only after some violence.
c) Let the eastern Ukraine leave following a Russian military intervention.


Clearly, option 'a' is by far the worst. Option 'b' is so-so, but option 'c' is very nice. Think of it: this option will make it look like Russia invaded the Eastern Ukraine and that the people there had no say about it. It will also make the rest of the Ukraine rally around the flag. The economic disaster will be blamed on Russia and the Presidential election of May 25th can be canceled due to the Russian "threat". Not only that, but a war - no matter how silly - is the *perfect* pretext to introduce martial law which can be used to crack down on the Right Sector or anybody expressing views the junta does not like. That is an old trick - trigger a war and people will rally around the regime in power. Create a panic, and people will forget the real issues.


As for the USA - it also knows that the Eastern Ukraine is gone. With Crimea and Eastern Ukraine gone - the Ukraine has exactly *zero* value to the Empire, to why not simply use it as a way to create a new Cold War, something which would be much more sexy that the Global War on Terror or the really old War on Drugs. After all, if Russia is forced to intervene militarily NATO will have to send reinforcements to "protect" countries like Poland or Latvia just in case Putin decides to invade all of the EU.


Bottom line - the freaks in power in Kiev and the USA *know* that the eastern Ukraine is lost for them, and the purpose of the imminent attack is not to "win" against the Russian-speaking rebels or, even less so, to "win" against the Russian military, it is to trigger enough violence to force Russia to intervene. In other words, since the East is lost anyways, it is much better to lose it to the "invading Russian hordes" than to lose it to the local civilian population.


So the purpose of the next attack will not be to win, but to lose. That the Ukrainian military can still do.


Two things can happen to foil this plan:


1) The Ukrainian military might refuse to obey such clearly criminal orders (and becoming a target of the Russian military might help some officers make the correct "purely moral" choice).
2) The local resistance might be strong enough to draw out such an operation and have to come to a grinding halt.


Ideally, a combination of both.


From the Russian point of view things are rather simple: it is infinitely better for Russia to have the East break away without any Russian intervention. If the attacking force is crazy enough to use armor, artillery or airpower, the Russian could decide to strike from the air without actually sending in ground forces. They could also use electronic warfare capabilities to further create chaos inside the attacking force. Limited pinpoint attacks could also serve to demoralize the attacking force. What Russia has to avoid all costs to find itself forced to engage in offensive urban operations which are always dangerous and bloody. It is therefore absolutely essential the the locals take control of their own streets, villages and cities.


Lavrov today delivered a very direct warning: if things go out of hand in the eastern Ukraine Russia will intervene. Hopefully somebody in the West will finally realize that the Russians are never bluffing and that they really mean it. I am not very optimistic though - if Lavrov felt the need to make a full 30min interview in English in which he clearly compared the situation in the Ukraine today to the one in Ossetia in 08.08.08 it is probably because the Russians have intelligence indicating that an attack is imminent.


We shall know very soon.


The Saker

The New Zealand bubble


Reserve Bank raises Official Cash Rate


24 April, 2014

The Reserve Bank has raised its benchmark interest rate to 3 percent in a widely expected move that is likely to push up mortgage rates.

The rise in the Official Cash Rate (OCR) was the second increase in six weeks.

Governor Graeme Wheeler said in a statement on Thursday the economy had considerable momentum, led by strong growth in the construction sector and high dairy prices. Net immigration continued to rise, boosting housing and consumer demand.
Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler.
Mr Wheeler said inflationary pressures were increasing and were expected to continue doing so over the next two years.

The Reserve Bank upgraded its estimate of GDP growth for the year to March to 3.5 percent. The central bank is seeking to keep inflation near the middle of its 1-3 percent target band, which it said will ensure the economic expansion can be sustained.

"The speed and extent to which the OCR will be raised will depend on economic data and our continuing assessment of emerging inflationary pressures, including the extent to which the high exchange rate leads to lower inflationary pressure," Mr Wheeler's statement said.

But the statement added that the bank did not believe the current level of the currency was sustainable.

The OCR increase is likely to be reflected in higher borrowing costs for households and some analysts say mortgage rates could rise to 8 percent in the next couple of years.

The central bank last increased the Official Cash Rate on 13 March, pushing it from a three-year long record low of 2.5 percent to 2.75 percent.

In March, the central bank forecast a benchmark interest rate of 3.75 percent by the end of this year and 4.75 percent by 2015.

First NZ Capital economist Chris Green told Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme the market is expecting the next rise in June.


An important interview


Lavrov to RT: Americans are 'running the show' in Ukraine
'Americans are not ready to admit they cannot run the show'




RT,
23 April, 2014

.
As the standoff in the eastern Ukraine deteriorates into violence it’s up to world powers to step in and calm things down. Despite tough talk from Washington, the US, EU, Russia and Ukraine have managed to reach a framework to peace in Geneva. But will it be enough to avert a civil war? Sophie asks the Russian Foreign minister himself – Sergey Lavrov is on Sophie&Co today.

Follow @SophieCo_RT

Sophie Shevardnadze: Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign minister, it’s great to have you on our show today.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you for the invitation.

SS: So, just the other day Joe Biden on his visit to Kiev said that time is short for Russia to make progress on its commitments made in Geneva. What is expected of Russia?

SL: Well, it’s difficult to say because I discuss this almost daily with John Kerry. And frankly the American colleagues chose to put all the blame on Russia, including the origin of the conflict and including the steps which must be taken. 
They accuse us of having Russian troops, Russian agents in the east and South of Ukraine. They say that it is for the Russians only to give orders and the buildings illegally occupied would be liberated and that it is for the Russians to make sure that the East and South of Ukraine stops putting forward the demands for the federalization and the referendum and so on and so forth. This is absolute…you know…switching the goal post if you wish. In Geneva we all agreed that there must be reciprocal approach to any illegitimate action in Ukraine, be it in Kiev, be it in the West, be it in the East, be it in the South. And the people who started the process of illegitimate actions must step back first. It is absolutely abnormal due to any norms in a European city that Maidan is still occupied, that the buildings in Kiev are still occupied and in some other cities, that those who put on fire the buildings belonging to Communist party headquarters in Kiev, the buildings belonging to the Trade Union headquarters are not even under investigation. I don’t even want to mention the sniper cases because everyone forgot about those snipers. And we only hear that Let’s concentrate on eliminating terrorist threats in the East and in the South”.




On a lighter note - a starry-eyed Sophie Shevardnadze


The tentacles of the Corporate State

No escape from Big Brother

New bank law raises privacy fears
Attempts by the country's banks to comply with new American tax legislation are raising fears about customers' privacy


24 April, 2014

.
The United States is one of two countries - the other being Eritrea - that tax their citizens who live overseas, even if their income is generated in a foreign country and they live abroad permanently.


Under the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) which comes into effect in July, New Zealand banks will be required to identify accounts in the name of US citizens or residents and report these to Inland Revenue, which will then pass them on to the United States.

The law will apply to all accounts that earn interest, including credit cards, term deposits, savings accounts and some bonds. Banks have until the end of 2015 to review accounts and determine whether they are covered by the US requirements.

ANZ bank has responded by changing its credit card terms and conditions so it can provide cardholder information to any government authority in this country or overseas.

The bank said the government authorities it is referring to are Inland Revenue or the United States Internal Revenue Service. The relatively broad language "does not mean any government authority can collect and use customer information," the bank said in a statement. "We will only be collecting and using customer information where there is a legal requirement or as directed by law as in the present case with FATCA."

It had also used these terms in case other countries decided to implement a similar system. "We understand that global discussions are currently occurring," it said.

Privacy lawyer Kathryn Dalziel told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme the bank's move to facilitate handing over information breaches the Privacy Act.

Ms Dalziel said the wording in the new clause is too broad and ANZ runs the same risk as the Accident Compensation Commission did over a privacy waiver which was ruled unlawful.

The Bankers' Association chief executive Kirk Hope said New Zealand banks have no choice but to comply with the US law, but take confidentiality of client's information very seriously.

"New Zealand banks are not just subject to privacy laws. They also have a common law duty of confidentiality, which is an important consideration to remember."

The association estimates 1.5 percent of customers will be affected. It said New Zealand banks source funds through the US and failing to comply would have a significant impact on this country's economy.

David Tripe, from Massey University's School of Economics and Finance, said every bank in New Zealand has to be compliant, regardless of whether they do business with the United States.

ANZ said that under FATCA regulations it is not required to notify customers of any change, but had done so as a matter of customer service.


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Solomon Is. disaster


Solomon Islands flood victims ‘terrified’ after quakes
Food prices quadruple – Thousands of children still displaced


19 April, 2014



By Liz Burlingame
19 April 2014


(weather.com) – A major 7.5-magnitude earthquake was recorded off the coast of Papua New Guinea Saturday, and the tremors could lead to a tsunami, warned the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.


The earthquake occurred 42 miles southwest of Panguana at a depth of approximately 6 miles.


A tsunami warning was issued for both Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands at around 9:40 a.m. EST.


The new tremor marks the third major earthquake in this region in the past week. On April 13, two separate earthquakes hit the Solomon Islands with magnitudes 7.6 and 7.5. An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 was also recorded off Papua New Guinea's remote Bougainville Island on April 11, but there were no damage reports.


Earthquakes that measure between 6 and 6.9 magnitudes are classified as "strong," whereas the ones between 7 and 7.9 are called "major" quakes.





Solomons flood victims 'terrified' after quakes

Honiara, 14 April 2014 (AFP) – A series of powerful earthquakes off the Solomon Islands sparked panic in evacuation centres filled with victims of an earlier flood but apparently caused no serious damage, aid workers said Monday.


A 7.6-magnitude quake woke residents in the flood-hit capital Honiara early Sunday, followed soon after by a 5.9-magnitude aftershock, then a tremor close to midnight that measured 7.5, according to the US Geological Survey.


The quakes prompted two tsunami alerts that were swiftly cancelled and the Solomon Islands government did not report any damage.


However, authorities in Papua New Guinea reportedly said there was one death in a separate 7.1 quake that hit on Friday.


About 9,000 people remain homeless in Honiara after floods earlier this month that claimed at least 21 lives. Save the Children's emergencies manager Graham Kenna said the quakes sent many running for their lives.


"It's terrified the people who are in these displaced centres, they're very, very frightened," he told AFP.


"Most of them went for higher ground but then they rushed back because they wanted to ensure what few possessions they have were safe.


"It hasn't disrupted the work we're doing that much, but it's put the people more and more on edge."


Kenna said food and supplies were being distributed but aid agencies estimated that only 40 percent of the items needed to cope with the disaster had so far arrived in the Solomons.


With regional stockpiles still depleted after Super Typhoon Haiyan battered the Philippines in November, Hanna said additional supplies were being sent from the Middle East and South Asia but could be weeks away.


In the meantime, he said preventing an outbreak of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease already common in the Solomons before the floods, was a priority.


"All the extra water that's around is going to make the mosquitoes breed like crazy and I'd say that when it dries out, probably in the next three or four days, dengue's going to be a major issue," he said. [more]





Food prices quadruple in Solomons after flood

By Anna Cross
19 April 2014


(Newstalk ZB) – Prices for basic foods in the Solomon Islands have quadrupled following the floods there.


TEAR Fund chief Ian McInnes says while the focus of the aid effort has been on Honiara, hundreds of other communities are yet to receive any help.


A lot of market stalls are empty, but cabbages, tomatoes and root vegetables are selling for four times their normal price.

A result the government has pledged an extra 95-thousand dollars to boost food production in remote communities.




Speaker: Acting New Zealand High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Sarah Wong


15 April 2014 (Fuseworks) – Recent torrential rains, extreme flooding and several large magnitude earthquakes in the Solomon Islands, have affected 52,000 people, of which 26,000 are estimated to be children. In the immediate aftermath of this series of natural disasters, much still needs to be done to aid in the recovery effort and identify gaps that still need to be met.


Dennis McKinlay, Executive Director at UNICEF NZ said, "An area of major concern for UNICEF is the continued large numbers of people taking refuge in evacuation centres. Plans are being put in place to consolidate the number of centres by closing smaller centres and shelters currently housed in schools so that they can reopen for classes. This strategy will only be beneficial if the remaining centres have access to sufficient supplies and facilities."


"Adequate health care supplies are needed to combat diarrhoea, malaria, dengue fever, respiratory, eye and skin infections. Other major concerns for UNICEF include the availability of counselling services, reports of moderately or acutely malnourished children under five and the general protection of vulnerable people including children and pregnant women."


To date, some electricity and water systems have been restored but large numbers of the population remain dependent on emergency water trucks or water purification tablets that need to be replenished. Destroyed or damaged bridges are continuing to limit mobility and access, but repairs have started and detailed assessments in rural Guadalcanal are being carried out to assess the needs outside Honiara.


"UNICEF is continuing to work alongside the Solomon Islands Government and partners to provide a coordinated and effective response. While some immediate threats have passed, now is the time when the people of the Solomon Islands will need the most help. Critical ongoing needs continue to be site management of evacuation centres, food, clean water and sanitation and hygiene supplies," Mr McKinlay said.


Additional needs identified include blankets, clothing, micro-nutrient powder sachets, zinc, fuel, cooking utensils and school restoration to minimise delays in the resumption of classes. Reinstating water and sanitation facilities in schools is also a priority.


Mr McKinlay added, "In Honiara alone, nearly 11,000 continue to take refuge in 33 evacuation centres. Around 4,000 evacuees are thought to be children. Conditions in the centres are still inadequate for the number of people there and access to clean and safe water and toilets in the centres and surrounding areas continues to be the greatest concern."


UNICEF has made available its contingency supplies in Honiara consisting of water containers, water purification tablets, soap and hygiene messages. Distribution of collapsible water containers has taken place in Guadalcanal, while WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) kits have been distributed to evacuation centres. UNICEF has also purchased 50,000 bars of soap and additional supplies will be shipped from Vanuatu and other UNICEF depots.


Mr McKinlay added, "As those that can begin to return to their homes, many others have been rendered homeless and will be in need of greater help and assistance in the form of government issued ‘return packages’. UNICEF will do all it can to support this process but realises that it will take time and a further coordinated effort."


Donations are urgently needed so UNICEF can provide essential supplies and support the emergency relief effort. To donate go to: www.unicef.org.nz/solomon-islands.


Items such as food and clothing cannot currently be accepted due to the logistical difficulties and costs associated with transporting items to the Solomon Islands.


16 April 2014 (Radio Australia) – The Solomon Islands government is still grappling with its post flood relief efforts.


The main hospital has sent staff to deal with diarrhoea, dengue flu and malaria outbreaks with damp conditions at the care centres hindering relief efforts.


The evacuation centres are still home to about 9 to 10 thousand people where supplies for the families in the centres limited and bridge access to Honiara is slow.

Solomon Islands' next challenge to repatriate flood victims: NZ


Presenter: Geraldine Coutts


Speaker: Acting New Zealand High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Sarah Wong


WONG: I mean in terms of I guess the state of Solomon Islands and where things are I think it's useful to note that this has been an enormous event for Solomon Islands, and in particular, Honiara and Guadalcanal Province. It is a natural disaster that I can't thing of anyone, any Solomon Islander that I've spoken to who have described some natural disaster that's been worse than this and so it has taken people by surprise and people the recovery period is going to be quite awhile, this is many months of recovery for Solomon Islands. And I think that the international community need to be on standby to help, but Solomon Islands obviously need that space to work through some of these very complex issues around repatriating families, working out where people can rebuild, and also just the enormous task of rebuilding the infrastructure and basic services so that Honiara City and Guadalcanal Province can return to normal.


COUTTS: New Zealand is working with UNICEF as are other nations to try and overcome the concern about what's happening in the Care Centres at the moment. They're crowded still, people aren't able to go home, the schools are in use as kids haven't been able to go back to school and now, on top of that, they're trying to avert another crisis of illness in these Care centres. Can you just give us a status report?


WONG: We are very much aware that, for example, in Honiara itself, along the Metanico River, there are about 70 homes at least that have been completely destroyed and will need to be replaced. So there is a bit of pressure on the evacuation centres and where to house people and so at the moment, the first wave of emergency response was to try and get food and non-food items into those centres so that people had some basic necessities to allow them to sort of stay in those centres and get immediate shelter. But the challenge for all of us now is how to repatriate people and what assistance each family gets, because obviously different families have different circumstances.


The local authorities are trying to collate as much information as possible on what the current situation is for each family and then based on their advice, donors like New Zealand, will provide assistance to the authorities, through the authorities to assist these families.


COUTTS: But I'm just wondering now of the people who are in the evacuation centres, what is the state of their health, is there a large contingent now with diarrhoea, red eye, dengue, malaria and are we worried about cholera and typhoid, those sorts of things?


WONG: Oh, we definitely are. We know that there are an increasing number of flood-related diseases, particularly, for example, with children. We know that there's an increase in diarrhoea being presented. There are also, of course, the usual risk of malaria and dengue fever.


Because the local medical authorities here have noted an increase in cases being presented at the National Referral Hospital and in one of other local clinics. This is why New Zealand, along with Australia are providing the medical assistance personnel to come in and help manage the number of cases that are being presented.


COUTTS: And, so how likely is that the evacuation centres will be available, schools that are being used as evacuation centres will be available next week for the kids. I mean they were supposed to have gone back to school this week, but will they be accessible for the children to return to school next week?


WONG: Look again, this is an issue that we do know the Solomon Islands governments is thinking very hard about. Half of the 24 official evacuation centres are in schools and so the Solomon Islands government is working through a plan on how they can consolidate some of the evacuation centres. They are seriously looking at trying to repatriate families over the Easter period back to homes where they can, but, of course, they need to obviously. There are a number of issues around are the homes in a suitable state for them to live in, are they not in a flood plain. There are a number of things that they need to take into consideration, but we do know that the Solomon Islands government is thinking very hard about getting families, where they can, back into their houses of the Easter period and they have not given us a definite date on when the schools can be returned to schools, but we do know that they are thinking very hard about it and the international community are obviously in conversation with the government about how we can assist.


COUTTS: Some, we're told, will never be able to return home, because of the areas are prone to flooding and their houses have been devastated so they can't return. What's going to happen to them? So obviously there's a short term and a long term answer to that?


WONG: Yeah. So, look at the moment, what has happened is everyone has focused on the immediate emergency response, so making sure that people have basic shelter, basic food and other basic necessities to ensure that they are safe and protected.


Going forward, we are now starting to look at the medium term recovery and the issues of the fact that we know at least 80 homes or so have been destroyed and will need to be replaced and the questions of whether they should be rebuilding in the same locations or whether those who are in flood-prone areas should be looking at other areas to locate. They are issues that area being considered right now.


The Solomon Islands government haven't been able to obviously give us a definite answer on where to place people where they cannot rebuild on their existing land, but that is something that we are going to have to give the Solomon Islands government the time and space to work through. It's not an easy thing to do, but there are some people who are going to have to find new locations to live. [more]