Fiji

Fiji: Cabinet satisfied with Cyclone Ami relief assistance program

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Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has today said that Government has done the right thing in carrying out field surveys and assessments first before beginning relief assistance to Cyclone AMI affected areas.
Mr. Qarase made this statement following criticism against Government for being unduly late in providing relief assistance.

Speaking at a Media Conference on Government's Relief and Rehabilitation Assistance Programme for Victims of Tropical Cyclone Ami, Mr. Qarase said there were practical difficulties caused by the breakdown in telecommunications and the shortage of suitable vehicles and manpower.

"But despite the delays and the difficulties, these surveys have been very helpful," said Mr. Qarase.

"Not only is the Government now providing relief assistance to all those identified as being in dire need of emergency assistance, Cabinet has also been able to make decisions on longer term relief and rehabilitation assistance to be provided by Government."

Providing an update on the two-phased relief assistance by Government Mr. Qarase said the first phase is currently being undertaken with the emergency assistance that is currently being distributed.

"The immediate objective is to assist with food, water and shelter. Emergency food rations for one month is being distributed to families in all villages and settlements identified in the field surveys.

"Government has also supplied water containers and water purification tablets, emergency medical supplies, and tarpaulins. The Red Cross and other NGOs and community organizations are assisting with clothing, beddings, kitchenware as well as food items.

"Food rations and water assistance have also been given to boarding schools in the Northern Division."

The emergency food rations take into account the size of a family and include units of:

  • rice
  • flour
  • sugar
  • tinned fish
  • full cream milk
  • dhal
  • soya bean oil
Mr. Qarase said out of a total population of 141,509, comprising 83,852 in Macuata, 45,957 in Cakaudrove and 11,700 in Lau, 91,094 people have been assisted.

He said expenditure to date by Government through the Ministry of Regional Development in providing this emergency relief assistance totals:

  • $419,000 for food rations;
  • $132,000 for emergency medical supplies and assistance;
  • $25,000 for cartage of water;
  • $51,000 for tarpaulins; and
  • $45,000 for food assistance to boarding schools like Niusawa Methodist, Holy Cross College and the Marist Training Centre at Tutu.
Mr. Qarase said the second phase of relief assistance is yet to start.

"This is to follow after the first month covered by emergency relief assistance."

In the second phase, further ration and other relief assistance will be given only after further field surveys have been undertaken to establish genuine needy cases.

These would be families who sustained severe damages to their homes and plantations.

Mr. Qarase said the second phase will be closely co-ordinated with the provision of rehabilitation assistance for house reconstruction and for crop and livestock production.

He said the aim is to get people and their families back on their feet within a reasonable period of assisted recovery.