“I understand they went to Utupua Island to bring food to their atoll island of Nifiloli where food is scarce occasionally and the recent cyclone has destroyed food crops,” spokesman Simon Salopuka told Solomon Star on Friday.
Relatives are appealing for financial assistance to bring their loved ones home.
The five men are being looked after at Ansanvari Village on Pentecost Island in Vanuatu where they came ashore on 26 February. The five males were on their way to Nifiloli in the Reef Islands when they met bad weather.
An initial report said their boat capsized and they lost everything. They survived on drifted coconuts and fish for the next 16 days as they drifted towards Vanuatu.
Dr. Salopuka told this paper that relatives are raising funds to help the Solomon Islands community in Port Vila to help feed and care for them until they could return to the Solomon Islands.
“At this stage, it is uncertain when they are going to be back in Honiara. It is also uncertain when they will travel to their homes from Honiara, knowing shipping schedule to Temotu Province is irregular and living with relatives in Honiara is an extra burden on families in terms of food and accommodation, etc,” Dr. Salopuka said.
Dr. Salopuka said relatives are fundraising to buy food in Honiara and to bring them home, thus as a relative, I am anticipating financial support for this cause.
“At this stage, I am uncertain how long they will be staying in Port Vila and who may be responsible to repatriate them.
“I still have to find out from the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) in Honiara if they would step in to help. In Port Vila, I understand that NDMO Vanuatu is accommodating the men in a temporary basis and the Solomon Islands’ community in Port Vila is also assisting them periodically.
A reciprocal courtesy ceremony to thank the Maewo community which initially hosted them is scheduled for today.
Dr. Salopuka did not give a figure as to how much is needed for the repatriation cost of the five men.
By FOLLET JOHN