21 Jun 2007

Hunger at closed Vatukoula gold mine in Fiji

7:55 am on 21 June 2007

Families of the former employees of the closed down Vatukoula gold mine in Fiji are reported to be missing meals and going hungry.

The Fiji Times reports that children are dropping out of school either because they are hungry or because their parents cannot pay bus fares.

The newspaper says the families of the 1,700 miners who became unemployed when the mine was closed on the day of the coup last December are pleading for assistance from any organisation willing to come to their rescue.

The Vatukoula-Nadarivatu Head Teachers Association is pleading with organisations to supply them with basic food so they feed students who turn up for school without any lunch.

A committee representing the local community has written to the National Disaster Management Office asking that Vatukoula be declared a disaster area so they may become eligible for help.

The committee secretary, Romeo Kivi, says the effect of the mine's closure has been worse than any natural disaster, adding that the situation is out of control.

The Emperor Gold Mining Company closed down the mine without warning on December 5th last year.