Stories written by Catherine Wilson

Pacific Nations Need Help Away From Aid

Long-term dependence on development aid in Pacific Island nations, many of which have been independent for 30-40 years, continues to cause concern.

West Papua Searches Far for Rights

The indigenous struggle for liberation in West Papua on the western half of the island of New Guinea in the south-west Pacific, with the loss of thousands of lives, is far from ending. But, despite political uncertainties, a united coalition of pro-independence leaders has reignited hope of freedom by galvanising the support of a Pacific Islands inter-governmental organisation.

Women Advance in Distant Islands

Women’s political representation in the Pacific Islands region is globally the lowest at 3.65 percent, compared to the world average of 18 percent. Leadership is still widely perceived as ‘men’s business’ and voting is heavily influenced by nepotism and money politics. However, Rhoda Sikilabu, minister for community affairs in Isabel Province in the Solomon Islands is demonstrating that women leaders can drive development progress and win voter support.

Saving Children From Loggers

Logging is the largest industry in the Solomon Islands, an archipelago located northwest of Fiji, where 80 percent of the islands are covered in tropical rainforest. But, although timber accounts for 60 percent of this South Pacific nation’s export earnings, most local communities have experienced no beneficial development.

Idyllic Island Confronts Bloody Past

Anguish over the whereabouts of loved ones who went missing during a five-year civil conflict that ended a decade ago continues for countless families in the Solomon Islands. Searching for the remains of those who disappeared is vital to enduring peace in this culturally diverse south-west Pacific island nation of 550,000.

Idyllic Island Confronts Bloody Past

Anguish over the whereabouts of loved ones who went missing during a five-year civil conflict that ended a decade ago continues for countless families in the Solomon Islands. Searching for the remains of those who disappeared is vital to enduring peace in this culturally diverse south-west Pacific island nation of 550,000.

Corruption Smothering Pacific Students

External interference in the awarding of tertiary scholarships in Pacific Island nations such as the Solomon Islands is denying some of the highest achievers among the young an opportunity to contribute to the future of their country and the region.

Eye Disease Sweeps Pacific Islands

For generations, eye diseases have taken their toll on Pacific Island peoples. Now the first nationwide survey in the Solomon Islands of Trachoma, which can lead to irreversible blindness by early adulthood, is revealing the silent penetration of this disease in widely dispersed Melanesian rural island communities.

Solomon Men Learning Wisely to Respect Women

In the Solomon Islands in the south-west Pacific, where two in three of the estimated female population of 252,000 have experienced physical and sexual partner abuse, recognition is growing that ending the cycle of violence cannot be achieved without the partnership of men as catalysts of change. And initiatives by men are gaining support.

The Medicines Are Fake, the Illnesses Real

Reports of fraudulent medicines in the south-west Pacific island states of Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea have drawn attention to the need for more public awareness of the lethal trade and its tragic consequences.

Killer Smoke Blows Through Pacific Islands

Governments in the Western Pacific Islands, believed to be home to a third of the world’s smokers, have begun a long battle with the growing crisis of non-communicable diseases. Such diseases currently account for 75 percent of the region’s fatalities.

Australian ‘Outsourcing’ of Refugees Challenged

The Australian asylum policy of rejecting boat arrivals has been condemned by the United Nations Refugee Agency, Pacific island leaders, migration experts and human rights organisations.

The Classrooms Are Full – but the Students Can’t Read

Many Pacific Island nations are celebrating the success of rising school enrolment rates, with 14 members of the 16-member Pacific Island Forum on target to meet Millennium Development Goal 2: achieving universal primary education by 2015.

No Quick Fixes to Sorcery-Related Violence

Following worldwide outrage over a spate of brutal sorcery-related murders in Papua New Guinea, the government has rolled out a new hard-line approach to spiralling crime in this southwest Pacific island state.

The Future of the Pacific Ocean Hangs in the Balance

The immense scale of the Pacific Ocean, at 165 million square kilometres, inspires awe and fascination, but for those who inhabit the 22 Pacific island countries and territories, it is the very source of life. Without it, livelihoods and economies would collapse, hunger and ill-health would become endemic and human survival would be threatened.

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