27 Dec 2002

Charitable organisations in Fiji struggle to cope with calls for assistance

10:15 am on 27 December 2002

Charitable organisations in Fiji's west are reported to be struggling to meet the demand for assistance in the face of sharply rising poverty.

The Fiji Times reports that the four charitable organisations which provide bfood rations to displace farmers and poor families and pay their childrens' school fees says the demand now is three time the level of previous years.

They say this is due to the expiry of farm leases and unemployment.

Father Pat Colgan of the St Vincent de Paul Society says many families are being turned away because the organisation does not have the resources.

The Immanuel Care Group is making its food parcels smaller in response to the larger number of people seeking help.

The mayor of Ba, Praveen Bala, says squatter settlements are springing up in towns and cities and landlessness is an issue which would affect the whole country.

The minister for environment and housing, Mataiasi Ragigia, says he is alarmerd by the number of squatters moving into urban areas all over Fiji.