Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands
The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), also known as Operation Helpem Fren, was created in 2003 in response to a request for international aid by the Governor-General
Governor-General of the Solomon Islands
The Governor-General of Solomon Islands is the representative of the Queen of Solomon Islands, Elizabeth II. The Queen does not reside in the islands, and so the Governor-General serves as the country's de facto head of state in her absence....

 of the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

. Helpem Fren means "help a friend" in Solomon Islands Pijin
Pijin language
Pijin is also referred to as Kanaka and is a language spoken in the Solomon Islands. It is closely related to Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea; Bislama of Vanuatu; and Torres Strait Creole of the Torres Strait, Queensland, Australia and is written in the Latin alphabet.As of 1999 there were 306,984...


Causes for unrest

Deep seated problems of land alienation
Alienated land
Alienated land is that which has been acquired from customary landowners by Government, either for its own use or private development requiring a mortgage or other forms of guarantees. The term refers historically to the appropriation of customary land by European colonial powers. Land was...

 dating from colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

, unresolved after independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

 have led to a number of compensation
In law, damages is an award, typically of money, to be paid to a person as compensation for loss or injury; grammatically, it is a singular noun, not plural.- Compensatory damages :...

 claims on land use.

According to "Peacemaking in Solomon Islands: The experience of the Guadalcanal Women for Peace movement" by Dalcy Tovosia Paina, School of Education, Solomon Islands College of Higher Education,

"The Honiara Peace Accord that was signed by the warring parties (Guadalcanal and Malaita), the government and the Commonwealth Special Envoy (Major Sitiveni Rabuka) recognised several root causes of the conflict:
  • Land demands – Guadalcanal leaders wanted all alienated land titles, which had been leased to government and to individual developers, to be returned to landowners (including any other land acquired illegally).
  • Political demands – Guadalcanal wanted the establishment of a state government in order to have control over: the sale or use of local land; the distribution of wealth derived from local natural resources; and the migration of people in and out of the province.
  • Compensation demands – Guadalcanal wanted payment for the lives of its indigenous people, who have been brutally murdered for their lands or for other reasons."

The warring parties mentioned were mainly the Solomon Islands Government, the Isatabu Freedom Movement
Isatabu Freedom Movement
Isatabu Freedom Movement is a nationalist militant organisation of the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.The movement also included other factions such as the Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army and the Guadalcanal Liberation Front which was led by warlord Harold Keke...

 and the Malaita Eagle Force
Malaita Eagle Force
Malaita Eagles Force is a militant organization, originating in the island of Malaita, in the Solomon Islands.It was set up during 'The Tension' in the Solomons, which were mainly centred on Guadalcanal, to defend diasporic Malaitans in Guadalcanal and the property of Malaitans that have left the...

 led by, among others, Jimmy Rasta.

International response

A sizeable international security contingent of 2,200 police and troops, led by Australia (under the Australian Federal Police
Australian Federal Police
The Australian Federal Police is the federal police agency of the Commonwealth of Australia. Although the AFP was created by the amalgamation in 1979 of three Commonwealth law enforcement agencies, it traces its history from Commonwealth law enforcement agencies dating back to the federation of...

 and Australian Defence Force
Australian Defence Force
The Australian Defence Force is the military organisation responsible for the defence of Australia. It consists of the Royal Australian Navy , Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force and a number of 'tri-service' units...

 name Operation Anode) and New Zealand, and with representatives from about 6 other Pacific nations began arriving on 24 July 2003.

Nick Warner
Nick Warner
Nicholas Peter "Nick" Warner AO PSM is an Australian diplomat and public servant, who is the current Director-General of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service . From December 2006 to August 2009, he was the Secretary of the Australian Department of Defence...

 assumed the role of Special Coordinator as leader of RAMSI, working with the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

 Government and assisted by a New Zealand Deputy Special Coordinator, Peter Noble, and Fijian Assistant Special Coordinator, Sekove Naqiolevu. Major contributing nations to RAMSI include Australia, which directed the operation through running Combined Task Force
Task force
A task force is a unit or formation established to work on a single defined task or activity. Originally introduced by the United States Navy, the term has now caught on for general usage and is a standard part of NATO terminology...

(CTF 635), Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

 and Tonga
Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga , is a state and an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 176 islands scattered over of ocean in the South Pacific...

. Initially, the commander of the Task Force – the military element of the Mission – was Lieutenant Colonel John Frewen, OC 2 RAR, and the deputy commander Major Vern Bennett, New Zealand Army, from Linton.
The Land Component included HQ 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment is a regular light infantry battalion of the Australian Army. 2 RAR was first formed as the Australian 66th Battalion in 1945 and since then it has seen active service during the Korean War, Malayan Emergency and Vietnam War...

 from Townsville, 200 Australian infantry from 2 RAR, a Fijian rifle company, probably from 3 Fiji Infantry Regiment, Queen Elizabeth Bks, Suva, and a Pacific Islands Company, under an Australian Company commander, with Tongan, PNG, and Australian rifle platoons. Supporting elements included a PNG engineer troop, New Zealand engineer & medical elements, an Australian Combat Service Support Team, with some personnel from Army level troops from Sydney plus logistics personnel from New Zealand, and four Australian Project Nervana Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

s for surveillance.

In 2004, James Batley took over as Special Coordinator, followed by Tim George in late 2006. In 2005 New Zealander Paul Ash became Deputy Special Coordinator, followed by Dr Jonathan Austin in 2007. Mataiasi Lomaloma succeeded Naqiolevu as Assistant Special Coordinator in late 2005.

Military personnel provide security, material and logistical assistance to police forces assisting the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

 Government in the restoration of law and order. From November 2003, the military component was reduced, as stability gradually returned to the country, and a sizeable civilian contingent, composed of economists, development assistance specialists and budget advisors commenced the reconstruction of the government, economy and finances of the Solomon Islands. The civilian contingent is now made up of around 130 personnel from many pacific countries, the most sizeable being Australia and New Zealand. Early successes included the stabilisation of government finances and normalisation of debt, as well as a number of economic reforms. Civilians in RAMSI are now focussing on capacity building of Solomon Islanders to take over the roles. Difficulties include the lack of available skilled Solomon Islanders.

Former Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare
Manasseh Sogavare
Manasseh Damukana Sogavare was the sixth Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands from 2000 to 2001 and again from 2006 to 2007. He has served in the National Parliament as Member for East Choiseul since 1997, and he is currently the Leader of the Opposition.-Biography:Sogavare was Permanent...

 was outspoken in his criticism of RAMSI, which he accused of being dominated by Australia and of undermining the Solomons' sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

. By contrast, his successor Prime Minister Derek Sikua
Derek Sikua
David Derek Sikua served as the ninth Prime Minister of Solomon Islands from December 20, 2007 to August 25, 2010. He is a member of the Solomon Islands Liberal Party.-Career:Sikua is from Ngalitavethi Village in Guadalcanal Province...

 has stated he supports RAMSI, and has criticised his predecessor, saying in January 2008: "I think for some time in the last 18 months, the Solomon Islands government was preoccupied with finding fault in RAMSI." Sikua has stated:
"[We will] provide leadership that will work closely with RAMSI to achieve clearly stated and agreed objectives for the long-term benefit of Solomon Islands. [...] RAMSI is here on our invitation. [...] [The mission] is important to Solomon Islands as it provides security, development of our police service, and the strengthening of the capacity of government institutions."

Sikua has also asked RAMSI to assist the Solomons' rural areas "in the health sector and in the education sector as well as in infrastructure and other sectors to do with income generation and economic activities".

Adam Dunning killing

In the early hours of 22 December 2004, Australian Protective Service
Australian Protective Service
The Australian Protective Service was an Australian Commonwealth agency which existed between 1984 and 2004. The APS was created by the separation of the Protective Service component of the Australian Federal Police into a new agency based upon recommendations contained in the Stewart Royal...

 Officer Adam Dunning was ambushed and killed while on a routine vehicle patrol with another officer in Honiara. Within 24 hours, a rifle company group from the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment is a regular light infantry battalion of the Australian Army. 1 RAR was first formed as the 65th Australian Infantry Battalion in 1945 and since then has been deployed on active service during the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam War...

 was flown into the Solomon Islands.

In early January 2005, a joint operation between the Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIP) and Participating Police Force (PPF) resulted in the arrest of James Tatau. Tatau was charged with Dunning's murder, the attempted murder of his colleague, and an earlier shooting incident on a Participating Police Force (PPF) vehicle, in which a bullet narrowly missed two PPF officers.

After the arrest, the military presence within RAMSI was again reduced. As of 2005, the five troop-contributing nations (Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Tonga) together provided approximately 40 personnel to support the PPF. There are currently around 200 troops stationed in Solomon Islands, who regularly conduct patrols in the capital, Honiara and throughout the provinces.

Solomon Islanders James Tatau and John Hen Ome were acquitted after standing trial for the killing of Adam Dunning in May 2007.

Riots following 2006 general election

On 18 April 2006 Snyder Rini
Snyder Rini
Snyder Rini is a Solomon Islands politician who was briefly the eighth Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands from April to May 2006 and has been Minister for Finance and Treasury since December 2007...

 was elected Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands in a general election. This sparked rioting in Honiara
Honiara, population 49,107 , 78,190 , is the capital of the Solomon Islands and of Guadalcanal Province, although it is a separately administered town...

 amidst allegations that the election was fixed with the aid of money from Chinese businessmen. Parts of Honiara were razed and looted, with Chinese-owned property particularly targeted. With up to 90% of their shops burnt down in Chinatown, most Chinese have evacuated the country in fear of their personal safety. Snyder Rini resigned on the floor of Parliament on 26 April after just eight days as Prime Minister and as MPs were due to vote on a motion of no confidence against him.

In response, from 20 April 2006, RAMSI forces were rapidly bolstered by a further 220 Australian troops. New Zealand sent a further rifle company and 30 police to increase its RAMSI contribution to around 160 troops and 67 police.

The PPF currently comprises police officers from 15 Pacific nations: Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Republic of Marshall Islands, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Niue, Tonga, Samoa
Samoa , officially the Independent State of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in...

, Cook Islands
Cook Islands
The Cook Islands is a self-governing parliamentary democracy in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand...

, Vanuatu
Vanuatu , officially the Republic of Vanuatu , is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some east of northern Australia, northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.Vanuatu was...

, Nauru
Nauru , officially the Republic of Nauru and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country in Micronesia in the South Pacific. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, to the east. Nauru is the world's smallest republic, covering just...

, Kiribati
Kiribati , officially the Republic of Kiribati, is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The permanent population exceeds just over 100,000 , and is composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres, straddling the...

 and Tuvalu
Tuvalu , formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji. It comprises four reef islands and five true atolls...


External links

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