National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad says he has received information that more than 4,000 people in over 150 evacuation centres have not received any food rations from the government since moving into these centres more than 48 hours ago, however the Minister for Disaster Management, Inia Seruiratu has clarified that evacuees should bring with them certain items including food to sustain them initially for at least 48 hours before assistance by government and its partner stakeholders arrive.
Prasad says he has been told by good samaritans of the pleas for help and support by residents of Sigatoka taking shelter in evacuation centres in the Nadroga province.
He adds the evacuees are desperate and calling for immediate help to alleviate the hunger of children and even toddlers camped with their parents.
Prasad also questioned why the government is moving slowly.
He says on Monday, Minister for Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu had said officials were gathering disaggregated data from the centres that would serve as the basis for providing the right kind of help.
Prasad adds it seems this process is taking ridiculously long and is yet another example of the kind of horrendous decision-making of this government as the people are hungry and need help immediately.
He says it is the role of any government to cushion the impact of any calamity or disaster on the people as this is a social responsibility and a moral obligation of a government.
Prasad says a responsible government would have kept funds in reserve, especially from the few hundred million dollars it has received in budget support from Australia and New Zealand, with the latest aid assistance of $58m from New Zealand less than three weeks ago.
He says a careful planning and budgeting would have ensured the swift mobilisation of government machinery to provide immediate relief, but it shows this government's lack of vision.
The Leader of the NFP says this government has always wanted to do things alone and has rejected repeated calls for bipartisanship to overcome challenges.
He says it has rejected working with civil society organisations or adequately resourcing them to provide help to the people because they have the widest footprint on the ground.
Prasad adds this government must now wake up from its slumber and heed the pleas for help from the people.
He says people want to hear and see their government's leaders roll out immediate help for them in order to survive the devastating impact of the widespread flooding and that help must be provided now.
When questioned by Fijivillage, Seruiratu says evacuees bringing food to sustain themselves is a standard practice and a known fact to those that patronize evacuation centres regularly.
Seruiratu says the Divisional Commissioners have submitted their data and due processes are taking place before rations will be released.
He says assistance have already been received and offers have already been made through the respective agencies and they at NDMO only hope that humanitarian assistance is not politicized.
Seruiratu says they do not deal with just one particular evacuation centre community, town or division but the whole of Fiji and hope this is appreciated and well understood by all. The Minister for Disaster Management says he expects this from Prasad since it is an election year but wants to assure him and all Fijians that this government cares and will ensure that everyone is treated equally, fairly and with respect leaving no one behind.
Seruiratu says they as a government have been consistent on that throughout and will continue to do that in the future.
4,069 people are currently taking shelter in 156 evacuation centres.
There are 106 evacuations centres open in the Western Division, 33 in the Central Division, 1 in the Eastern Division while 16 are open in the Northern Division.
The National Disaster Management Office says people can Police on 917 or the National Fire Authority on 910 if you need assistance in moving.
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