13 May 2021
The Late Raziv Hilly.

THE death of a young engineer earlier this week has re-ignited the debate over who should be responsible for cleaning up World War II unexploded bombs in Solomon Islands.

People of all walks of life – young and old – took to the social media this week arguing the pros and cons of the debate some 79 years after the deadly war between Japan and the United States and its allies ended.

Young Raziv Hilly – a young engineer and youth leader of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (SDA) – lost his life when an unexploded bomb went off on Sunday afternoon in suburban Lengakiki.

His career as a young civil engineer ended abruptly last Sunday afternoon.

The late Hilly was with a group of young people who were doing some fundraising for their work when the bomb went off around 3 pm on Sunday. He was rushed to the National Referral Hospital but pronounced dead on arrival due largely to loss of blood.

He was spoken highly of both in his secular work as well as in the youth leadership role he led.

Three other young people in the group who were attending the barbecue that afternoon were seriously injured.

“This is a young man who had a career ahead of him. He did not have to die just because someone did not clean up his mess,” a relative told Solomon Star last night.

“Young Raziv was a future leader, not only in his chosen career but in the nation as a whole. He paid the ultimate sacrifice through no fault of his own,” the relative said.

“Something must be done now to clean up the mess. The government must lead,” he said.

Others said on social media said the Second World War was a culturally sensitive issue. 

“There were many who sacrificed their lives in order that the people of Solomon Islands could live a relatively free life. So the Allies too had paid a heavy price in terms of loss of lives,” they argued.

East Kwaio community chief, Steve Firiabae whose call on the United States and Japan “to clean up their mess” had reignited the debate, told Solomon Star last night the World War II was never Solomon Islands’ war.

“Japan and the United States do have a duty of care to the people of Solomon Islands. People of Solomon Islands – young and old, women and children, will continue to face uncertain death unless a major clean-up program of unexploded ordnances are aggressively pursued.

“That’s all we are asking. The two governments must provide the necessary resources and expertise to clean up Solomon Islands of all unexploded bombs. There are tens of thousands of them lie buried underground throughout Solomon Islands,” Mr. Firiabae said.

It is estimated that more than 70 per cent of bombs dropped in Solomon Islands during the World War II failed to go off.

The United States earlier this week issued a statement conveying a condolence message to the late Hilly’s family.

US Ambassador in Port Moresby Erin McKee said efforts by his government to remove unexploded ordnance in Solomon Islands would continue.

“Among these efforts is our on-going partnership with Norwegian People’s Aid, which has worked in Solomon Islands since 2019 to identify and dispose of unexploded ordnance,” Ambassador McKee was quoted as saying.

But a government official who asked not to be named told Solomon Star the agreement under which the Norwegians worked in Solomon Islands has lapsed and no one was interested in renewing it because its activities became highly commercialised.

Others said the group was charging $20 for a square metre of area they tested for unexploded bombs.

By Alfred Sasako
Newsroom, Honiara