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Fiji aid to focus on squatter settlements

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs

10 February 2006

Fiji aid to focus on squatter settlements

Ending his visit to Fiji, Foreign Minister Winston Peters has said that New Zealand intends to focus its bilateral aid efforts on addressing the growing problem of squatter settlements.

“Changes in Fiji’s economy and society mean that our important Pacific neighbour faces, quite suddenly, a growing issue of poverty and hardship which will demand greater resources than it can muster," Mr Peters said.

Recent figures suggest the number of people living in squatter settlements is increasing significantly, and there are now an estimated 82,350 people living in 182 squatter settlements across the country.

“We have seen today that many of these people are living below the poverty line, in conditions that are unhygienic and unsafe. While acknowledging there are no quick-fixes, we see it as a problem that New Zealand can assist in solving,” said Mr Peters.

NZAID is contributing up to NZ$2.1 million in 2006 and up to NZ$10m over the next three years to support programmes for squatter resettlement in Fiji.

“We also visited the the Rotahome project at Naikabula, some 10km north of Lautoka, to see what this commitment will mean in practice. Here, 84 families will be resettled in new housing.

“Providing shelter and secure land tenure will go some way to easing the situation, but there are many factors that need to be addressed," Mr Peters said.

Rural-urban migration has led to an increasing number of squatters seeking better job and education opportunities. NZAID is also involved in programmes aimed at addressing socio-economic issues and improving access to important services.

“NZAID will work closely with Fiji’s Ministry of Local Government, Housing, Squatter Settlement & Environment on the squatter settlement issue. New Zealand is committed to providing assistance on a longer-term basis,” said Mr Peters.

New Zealand has an annual bilateral aid programme of $6 million with Fiji.

ENDS




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