NEWS

Yasa Appeal Permit Alert!

Those caught can face 12 months in jail or $2000 fine, or both
23 Dec 2020 11:37
Yasa Appeal Permit Alert!
Director NDMO Vasiti Soko.

Fraudsters collecting funds and items in the name of Tropical Cyclone Yasa relief assistance will be dealt with by the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO).

The strong warning was issued by the NDMO yesterday following concerns of a breach of the Declaration of State of Natural Disaster after several individuals were seen setting up their own fundraising for TC Yasa assistance.

Anyone who wishes to fundraise for TC Yasa is required to get a permit from the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management by emailing neocfiji@gmail.com

This timely warning from Director NDMO Vasiti Soko comes as the Consumer Council of Fiji also raised concerns that some people may take advantage of the generosity of others.

The council’s chief executive officer, Seema Shandil, said charity fraudsters use tragedies to exploit those who genuinely want to help by seeking donations for organisations or groups that were not legitimate.

“While these scams can happen at any time, it is especially prevalent after disasters such as the recent TC Yasa and while we laud the generosity of Fijians who are willing to give, they have to be cautious of the charity organisation they are donating to,” Ms Shandil said.

The council is urging Fijians who wish to make donations, to know whom they are donating to, be wary of emotional appeals and be suspicious of organisations with vague plans of dispersing the funds.

“With a little research and a few precautions, consumers can help ensure their donations go to organisations that are genuinely serving others, and help identify potential charity scams. Do not instantly assume that charity recommendations on Facebook or other social media are legitimate,” she said.

NDMO

Ms Soko cautioned that it was always best that the distribution or support was done through existing on-ground structures like the Commissioner, Provincial Administrator or District Officer.

“This will avoid duplication, ensure our support is targeted and on a need’s basis, ensure security during distribution (as a government official/s will accompany you), protects the community/victims in terms of their dignity and representation, protects the community/victims in terms of sensational coverage and out of context reporting and ensure that transparency and accountability is provided back to various donors,” Ms Soko said.

She said resources would be better co-ordinated if it was directed to the NDMO and Divisional Commissioners for immediate response towards those affected by the cyclone.

A State of Natural Disaster is currently in force for the entire country, effective from December 16, for 30 days.

The declaration was made upon the advice of the Emergency Committee, as per the powers conferred on the Cabinet by section 17 of the Natural Disaster Management Act of 1998.

Ms Soko said the declaration highlighted the prohibition of unjustified exploitation of a disaster for profit.

“The Declaration states that any person, body or entity who contravenes any order made by an officer of the Fiji Police Force or the Republic of the Fiji Military Forces in performing a role or discharging a responsibility under these Regulations commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $2000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12months or both,” Ms Soko said.

People can report suspected charity scams to the Consumer Council of Fiji as well, via their national toll-free line 155 or email complaints@consumersfiji.org.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj



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