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Refugee Numbers Increasing

Issue No: 381 16 January 2001

The number of farmers who have been evicted by the regime is increasing by the day. And so is the number of farmers flocking to the refugee camp organised by the National Farmers Union.

The NFU says that its camp in Valelawa in Vanua Levu now has about 400 residents, including about 150 children who need to go to school. The Union states that it has started making arrangements for meeting the educational needs of the children.

A report in today's Fiji Sun quotes a Union official as saying that the regime has provided no assistance at all to the evicted farmers. This is contrary to the media reports quoting the interim agriculture minister, Apisai Tora, as saying that the regime is assisting the evicted farmers.

The NFU has stated that farmers have rejected the regime's offer of residential leases on quarter acre plots in remote areas.

Meanwhile a delegation from the National Federation Party met with the NLTB and has endorsed the NLTB's actions and plans.

The NLTB had earlier circulated a paper it called the "Deed of Sovereignty" (see http://www.pcgov.org.fj/nltb_deed.htm ) where it called for ethnic Fijian supremacy in politics and decisions concerning land. It had also called for the surrender of all land by the chiefs to the Taukei Civilian Government, the term used by terrorist George Speight to refer to `his government'. The NLTB's officials were investigated for the circulation of the `Deed'. The `Deed' forms the basis of the NLTB's plans on leases.

The NFP has still not explained why it is endorsing the NLTB's actions which are based on the `Deed' of sovereignty.

In another development, the refugees from Muaniweni who had returned to Muaniweni are now returning to the refugee camp in Lautoka after continuing terrorism in the area by ethnic Fijian youth supporting terrorist George Speight. Today's Fiji Sun reports that 9 families which had left the camp a fortnight ago to resettle on their farms, will be returning this week.

END 16 January 2001


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