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Aid to Fiji re-assessed

News release

30th May 2000 Immediate release

Aid to Fiji re-assessed

Minister in charge of overseas aid, Matt Robson confirmed today that New Zealand aid to Fiji would be re-assessed.

Yesterday the Cabinet announced a package of 'smart' sanctions designed to send a clear message to the coup leaders that government at the end of a gun would not be tolerated.

"We have to look at our entire package of aid to Fiji, and establish which programmes, if continued, could inadvertently support an unconstitutional government.

"What we don't want to do is cut programmes focused on poverty alleviation or human rights, independent from government.

"At this stage we would look at the suspension of aid activities which directly support the Fiji government or depend overwhelmingly on government involvement.

"On the other hand aid to community based programmes, independent of government authorities could continue, like our contribution towards local rural projects aimed at alleviating poverty, especially for women and youth and our support of the human rights.

"We have to get this right. What we don't want to do is make the same mistake that was made in Iraq when innocent children and civilians ended up paying the highest price for sanctions, while the real culprits (Saddam Hussein) got off scott-free.

"It's important that we look at our aid package on a case by case basis, and ask the question of each programme, 'if we cancel this funding, who do we punish?'

"It's equally important that New Zealand lead the way and send a clear message to the coup leaders that their actions will not be condoned by the international community," said Matt Robson.

New Zealand's current bilateral programme in Fiji is in total NZ$5 million.

ENDS

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