Desperately needs food, water, clothes and building materials
Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry is currently in Taveuni meeting with victims of the cyclone, but his every move is being closely monitored by the local Police, even though he is on a humanitarian mission.
“They are tailing me around wherever I go,” said an amused Chaudhry, used to having his movements closely monitored by the regime for the past 9 years.
But the Labour Leader says the situation on the island is extremely GRIM. The southern part of Taveuni is the worst hit: “ There has been massive damage. 70% of the people have lost everything – their homes, their clothes, their root crops and vegetables.”
“Sadly, not a single Minister, not even the Prime Minister, has visited the island. The first government ration arrived three weeks after the cyclone hit – even then they just deposited the stuff and left,” he was informed by residents.
The village of Navakawau, on the southern tip of the island is one of the worst hit. The 700 villagers have lost almost 90% of their homes. The village school is completely destroyed – its 153 pupils are being taught under tarpaulin covers.
And the villagers are forced to live in small tarpaulin tents, 6 or 7 people to a tent, in extremely unhygienic conditions.
They have no water – sea water is used to bathe, cook and wash clothes. Every 4 days or so, WAF delivers some water to the village but this is hardly enough for even drinking purposes and the supply is irregular. The village water tank has been destroyed.
The food situation is quite desperate. Whatever root crops they had was used up in the past 3 weeks.
“They have received some rice. But this is not their staple diet. The villagers would need to be supplied food for at least 5-6 months before their own crops are ready. The children have to be fed,” said Mr Chaudhry.
Building materials are another urgent need. None of the homes destroyed can be rebuilt because of a complete lack of building materials.
“As it was they had a hand to mouth existence. It is now much worse. The villagers want government to get the message about their desperate plight and their urgent need for humanitarian assistance,” Mr Chaudhry said.