Sanma Chiefs Demand Respect From Evacuees

The Chiefs of Sanma are calling on Ambae evacuees to respect the custom governance of Sanma Province.

That is one of the resolutions of a meeting that took place on Tuesday, hosted by the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs with all chiefs from different area councils of Sanma and the Minister of Justice, Ronald Warsal, as the government representative at the Sanma Chiefs Nakamal on Santo.

The meeting was purposefully to discuss the movement of the people of Ambae to Santo as victims of the Lombenben volcano and to work out resolutions according to the observations of the people of Sanma Province.

One of the resolutions of the meeting requested the chiefs of the Sanma area councils to consult with their people and make a presentation of the views of the people to the Minister of Justice, Mr Warsal.

The people of Ambae were also present to witness the five resolutions made by the chiefs of Sanma.

The first resolution reached was the acceptance of the people of Ambae by the people of Santo during and after the State of Emergency on the condition that the people of Ambae respect the existing custom governance system of the areas in which they are residing including off-shore islands.

The people of Ambae must negotiate with the right custom land owner if they wish to acquire land according to the law and custom. All area councils of Sanma must be aware of the movement of Ambaens in the residing areas.

The same condition is also applicable to victims of any future disaster that consider relocating to Santo.

The Chiefs of Sanma have called on the government to ensure more infrastructure development in Sanma to enable access to government services and the government to start negotiating to acquire land to cater for future disaster relocation if there is a need.

On the fourth resolution, the Chiefs appealed for the government to create a national disaster plan that should include inputs from all chiefs from all islands of Vanuatu in all levels and lastly asked for the government to consider these resolutions from the chiefs of Sanma and their people.

On behalf of the people of Ambae, Chief John Tarilama acknowledged the initiative taken by the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs and the National Government for the dialogue to take place between the representatives of the people of Sanma and Ambae.

Chief Tarilama reiterated that many Ambaeans have lived on Santo before and acknowledged landowners of Santo for the arrangement that was made between the two parties.

Chief Tarilama said that due to this agreement the people of Ambae have come together to have dialogue with the people of Sanma.

He appealed for everyone to fix any future problems according to the custom governance and to work hand in hand towards economic and social development of Sanma.

Minister Warsal assured all the chiefs that the resolutions reached will be presented at the next Council of Ministers meeting.

The occasion ended with a pig killing ceremony.

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