Wednesday 23rd December 2020
It is ridiculous to threaten people with jail time when they are doing their best to help.
This is how National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad has described a statement by National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), threatening to fine and imprison those who fundraise “for-profit” and not cyclone relief.
“Things have now reached the height of stupidity. The Government is now threatening to put people in prison if they raise funds for cyclone relief”.
“NDMO Director Ms Vasiti Soko now says that people who fund-raise to help cyclone victims must apply to the NDMO for permission to do so. She suggests that if they do not, they could be prosecuted for “unjustifiable exploitation of a disaster for-profit” and be fined $2,000 or imprisoned for 12 months”.
“She insists that all cyclone relief assistance be directed through the Government. We ask why should all assistance directed through Government, especially one that is distrusted by most people for repeatedly failing to be transparent and accountable?”
“For generations, the people of Fiji have helped each other in times of disaster and distress. They have never waited for Government. And, as always, immediately after Tropical Cyclone Yasa, committed organisations and individuals have immediately begun the work needed to get help to those who need it”.
“They have gone out and asked family and friends for money to buy food rations and supplies. Often, they get help to people while the Government is still doing assessments”.
“The Government must know it cannot be everywhere and it cannot help everyone. And certainly, it is good to try to co-ordinate help so that some people do not end up with too much help and others with too little”.
“The staff of the NDMO did a good job in ensuring that people were kept safe and informed about TC Yasa. Thanks to good preparedness, there was minimal loss of life”.
“They should keep doing their work of damage assessment and information-gathering, and providing support to cyclone victims as they go. But they should also support the efforts of all Fiji citizens and look for ways to work together with them”.
“Threatening our own people is not how you build a successful disaster response”.
Professor Biman Prasad