NEWS

Payout For Test Veterans

Fijian military veterans from Britain’s Christmas Island nuclear tests will be compensated – by Fiji. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama will make the historic announcement about the payout in Suva on
27 Jan 2015 11:14
Payout For Test Veterans
War veteran Maleli Naigulevu (right) with his wife in Suva.

Fijian military veterans from Britain’s Christmas Island nuclear tests will be compensated – by Fiji.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama will make the historic announcement about the payout in Suva on Friday. It will bring to a closure decades of campaign for compensation by the veterans for suffering health problems including their children.

But their counterparts in Britain are still fighting for similar compensation.

The payout was confirmed yesterday by the Minister for Immigration, National Security and Defence, Timoci Natuva.

“The Prime Minister will officiate at the event this Friday,” he said.

The military veterans suffered serious illnesses such as chronic myeloid leukemia (type of blood cancer), aplastic anaemia (blood disorder), and skin complaints, reportedly caused by exposure to radiation from nuclear tests. Some of their children were born with congenital deformities and unidentified illnesses.

In 1958, more than 70 Fijian soldiers were sent to the island which was then part of the British Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony. It is now called Kiritimati in independent Kiribati.

One of the few surviving veterans, former laboratory technician, Maleli Naigulevu, 80, from Namacu, Koro, said: “Thank you, Prime Minister Mr Bainimarama. This is the greatest news I have heard in 57 years after our return from Christmas Island. At last my group has been recognised.”

Mr Naigulevu said they got nothing when they returned to the then British colony of Fiji from Christmas Island.

He said the PM and his Government had shown they cared for them. Friday’s event would be a blessing to all the survivors, he added.

He remembered the Fijians went to Christmas Island on two New Zealand naval ships – the Pukaki and Rotoiti.

He was on Pukaki which sailed directly to Christmas Island. The Rotoiti visited Rarotonga and arrived later. They were transferred to a British aircraft carrier called the Warrior.

“Our leader was chief petty officer Ratu Inoke Bainimarama and was assisted by Viliame Raikuna from Rewa,” he said.

They were not briefed about the purpose of their mission, he said.

They had their identification cards and were later told if something happened, they would be identified by their IDs.

Feedback: maikab@fijisun.com.fj

 

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