20 Jan 2003

Fiji finance ministry yet to decide on funds for victims of Cyclone Ami

3:35 pm on 20 January 2003

Fiji's finance ministry says it can only identify funds to help victims of Cyclone Ami once all the official damage reports are in which Radio Fiji says are expected today.

The radio quotes the finance secretary, Tevita Banuve, as saying if the damage is extensive, there will be a need to re-deploy funds from other ministries and put existing programmes on hold.

The report comes as many cyclone victims express more frustration with the slow pace of cyclone assistance, saying there is no sign of any help seven days after the cyclone.

A former MP and Labasa businessman, Fred Caine, says he had to provide shelter for close to 400 people who drifted to his doorstep during the cyclone because the state did not set up evacuation centres in time.

Mr Caine is pleading with the government for urgent assistance as they have now gone back and are surviving in unhygenic conditions in homes that are damaged or full of mud.

One report today says more than 200 families along the north eastern coast of Vanua Levu who were directly in the path of the cyclone are homeless and without food.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross says it has assisted 45-thousand cyclone victims and is moving steadily with its relief distribution.