Minister for Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu says he had asked the Commissioner Western to talk to the CEO of FRIEND Fiji Sashi Kiran because if Kiran wants to do humanitarian work, then everything must go through the District Officers however Kiran says every assistance that they have given, has gone through the DO’s Office, Provincial Administrator and Advisory Councillors.
Seruiratu highlighted this after NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad had said that someone told him that in the West, right from Sigatoka to Rakiraki, people who moved into the evacuation centres had no food support for more than four days during the recent cyclone.
The Minister says that he had also told the Commissioner Western to inform Kiran not to go to the DO’s office only for some assistance to be provided and then go to other places doing other distributions and she should stop it.
He says there is nothing in the law but the Act states that people are expected to at least sustain themselves initially for the first two days because the initial damage assessment that will be provided by the DO will come after 48 hours.
Seruiratu says those that patronise evacuation centres know this and they bring their, food, blankets and cooking stove.
He says there are smart people as well who wait in the evacuation centres until they know that it is 48 hours, and NDMO is about to bring the food.
Seruiratu says in the recent flooding in the West, FRIEND had informed the District Officer in Ba that they will look after 8 evacuation centres and this was consistent with the Act but after that, FRIEND was also seen in other areas distributing rations and this was a targeted hand out.
He says that FRIEND only assists NFP supporters.
Professor Biman Prasad then raised a point of order saying that Seruiratu is lying.
The Minister also said fijivillage had questioned him earlier to clarify if it was true that people were without food for more than 4 days after TC Cody.
While responding to Seruiratu’s claims, Sashi Kiran says they do not ask people what party they support when they are providing assistance.
She says they just assist people who are in need.
She says instead of using parliamentary privileges to continue to challenge them, Seruiratu should just pick up the phone and contact them.
Kiran says if he cannot do that, Seruiratu should go down to the community and serve the people who are really affected by the floods.
She also says they have followed all the channels while providing assistance on the ground.
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