22 Jan 2003

Reports of scavenging in Labasa a week after Cyclone Ami hit Fiji

8:41 am on 22 January 2003

People desperate for food after Cyclone Ami devastated Fiji's northern and eastern islands are reported to be scavenging in rubbish dumps to survive.

The Daily Post reports this is happening in the town of Labasa, on Taveuni and on some of the Lau islands.

It says people from one residential area of Labasa and those living in low cost public housing have confirmed that they have no option but to eat spoilt and damaged food disposed of by shops.

They are quoted as saying they cannot sit and wait for food rations from the government and other sources because they have small children and need food to survive.

They say they are collecting damaged tinned food, packed meat and other food as well as eating dead chicken that appear fresh.

One resident says they know the food could be poisonous but they are taking their chances because they can no longer fight hunger.

Another resident says if they become sick they will be able to get treatment, but if they go without food and water that will be the end.

A senior health ministry official has cautioned people against eating such food and to boil all drinking water.

He says people should bury all dead animals and rotten food.