11 Feb 2003

Fiji Labour Party leader calls for investigation into aid distribution

11:20 am on 11 February 2003

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has called on the government to investigate allegations of racial discrimination in the distribution of food rations and tents to victims of Cyclone Ami.

The Daily Post quotes Mr Chaudhry as saying he has received complaints that members of the Indian and other minority groups are being ignored by certain officials responsible for distributing relief supplies.

He says donors and NGOs should carry out their own investigations.

Mr Chaudhry also says the quantity of rations distrbuted is sufficient only for two or three days after which people have nothing left to eat.

Meanwhile the assistant minister in the prime minister's office, Simione Kaitani, has cautioned people and donor agencies to be wary of an appeal that calls for deposits to be made in a bank account under Mr Chaudhry's name.

The appeal has been ciculated internationally by e-mail by a Yusuf Roshan of the London-based Movement for Democracy in Fiji.

Mr Kaitani says Mr Chaudhry should first account for all the funds he solicited worldwide for displaced Indian refugees and their families after the May 2000 coup before launching another appeal relying on international sympathy.