NATION

Human Rights Commission To Assist Evicted Families

Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj, yesterday visited the settlement and assured them of the assistance the commission had in place for the families affected.
10 Feb 2020 11:19
Human Rights Commission To Assist Evicted Families
From left: Inoke Vunidawa, Viliame Salabogi, Miriama Salabogi and Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj at the Wainibuabua settlement in Wainadoi on February 9, 2020. Photo: Shalveen Chand

The Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission has stepped in to assist the 11 families who were evicted from the Wainibuabua settlement in Wainadoi on Wednesday.

An article published in the Fiji Sun on Tuesday, February 4, reported that the residents were served with a court order in which they were to dismantle all homes on the eight-acre land.

The court order highlighted that Jarad Holdings Limited was the new owner of the piece of land and that they had plans to develop the site in a few weeks’ time.

Fifty people live at the settlement, some for 30 years.

As of yesterday, 10 families had vacated the land while one family was likely to vacate today.

Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj, yesterday visited the settlement and assured them of the assistance the commission had in place for the families affected.

“We respect that this is the decision of the court and while we respect that, we also note that every Fijian has the constitutional right to housing, proper sanitation, education and all the basic necessities of life,” Mr Raj said.

“That is why the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission is here,” he said.

“We saw the report in the Fiji Sun and I was personally very concerned that the eviction of these families means that we are following the law but there are things happening to these human beings.

“They still need shelter, they need to go somewhere, they need food, kids need to go to school, and they need to be safe.

“These people need to have water and basic sanitation.”

Mr Raj said those were fundamental human rights and they were talking to the relevant ministry on how they could assist with the issue.

“I have been in conversation with the Permanent Secretary of Housing and two things that I can confirm at this point is one, they are doing a social survey of an appropriate area where the families can be relocated.

“The other thing is that they are looking at a possible piece of land between Wainadoi and Navua, which would not mean too many disruptions in terms of settling them.

“The PS Housing has assured me that they will be working very closely with the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission in the possible relocation.”

Mr Raj said access to education for the children living in the settlement had been affected too.

“Each day as the houses were being dismantled children were being shifted from one house to another so they could keep going to school.

“That is terrible and heart-wrenching, as of this morning I have been told that they have to now travel in a boat right out in the ocean to get back here and then catch a van to Naboro to attend their schools, that’s the harsh reality.

“We need to put our efforts together in helping these people find settlements so that the children can go back to school and I am hoping goodwill is going to prevail.”

Mr Raj said they were working closely with the relevant ministries to ensure that they find a proper place to settle in that is safe and secure.

“It is important that we do not point fingers but we get together to help.”

Edited by Ivamere Nataro

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