We can all understand the reluctance of other countries, especially Australia and New Zealand to respond with much needed funds & logistics to assist Fiji in the flooding that has devastated much of our Islands.
These countries have every right to be reluctant as they know that the insignificant Voreqe Bainimarama who has the attention span of a kutu will pocket every last cent donated – a la Mugabe.
Australia and New Zealand, regardless of the embarrassing treatment of their citizens who have worked in Fiji and the uneccessary criticism of the two countries by the interim regime are concerned for the welfare of the People of Fiji and are assisting in the hope that it is distributed and allocated to the right areas.
WE GIVE A HUGE VINAKA VAKALEVU TO THESE COUNTRIES.
$1 million of Australian aid for flooded Fiji
Rowan Callick and Michael McKenna | January 16, 2009
AUSTRALIA is expected to boost by about $1 million its aid to flood-hit Fiji, where a NSW man died of a heart attack this week amid the chaos of the evacuation of tourists from the Pacific nation.
Officials between the two countries were last night discussing how to direct the boosted aid, likely to be disbursed through non-government channels.
The new aid follows calls yesterday by Australia Fiji Business Council president Brian Anderson that Canberra and Suva set aside political differences to deliver “meaningful assistance to the people of Fiji”, after the catastrophic flooding.
The Fiji Government, facing the country’s worst floods in 50 years that have killed 11 and destroyed much infrastructure and many businesses, had declined to ask Australia and New Zealand publicly for further help.
Nor has it offered any criticism of the modest contribution of a total of $250,000 from Canberra and Wellington, which are bitterly estranged from the Suva Government led by military chief Frank Bainimarama. Most of the funds were provided to the Red Cross.
The tiny nation of Tonga yesterday announced it was giving $100,000.
Mr Anderson, the trade development manager of regional logistics company Mainfreight Owens, said: “In previous disasters in Fiji, the Australian government has offered the Fiji government considerable in-kind support to supplement Fiji’s limited capacity.
“The council recognises that, at first glance, both governments might consider such assistance to be out of the question in the light of the current dysfunctional political relationship, but the relationship between the peoples of our two countries is much longer and deeper than the life of the two governments.
“It will be a long road back, both for the national economy and for individual people at all levels of society.”
Parmesh Chand, the head of Fiji’s Prime Minister’s Department, said yesterday the Government had started to give regular briefings on the disaster “for the international community, for them to assess what help we need”.
He said that Fiji’s neighbours had “come to the party”.
“I am sure that over time, more help will be coming,” Mr Chand said.
He said the funds provided through the Fiji Red Cross were “very much appreciated”.
Meanwhile, the NSW man, so far unnamed, has been confirmed as the first Australian casualty of the floods. He is a Fiji-born man, 51, who died of a heart attack on Tuesday at Nadi airport when an ambulance was unable to reach him as roads that were not submerged were jammed with traffic.
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said the man’s family had been contacted, but he could not give any further details.
Mr Chand said Mr Bainimarama had indicated he was likely to join Kevin Rudd and other leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum in Port Moresby on January 27.
But the Fijian leader, who displaced the former government in a coup two years ago, will have to travel to the summit by island-hopping, since the most straightforward route, via Brisbane, is denied him because he is banned entry to Australia.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith reiterated on Wednesday that Fiji faced suspension at the forum because of Mr Bainimarama’s “failure to meet the faithful and unconditional undertaking” he made to forum leaders that he would hold a national election before April 1 this year. Mr Bainimarama’s attendance would make suspension less likely.