GAP BETWEEN RICH AND POOR GROWING IN FIJI

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 23, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Fiji government officials say social and economic problems in the Pacific nation have widened the gap between the country’s rich and poor.

Fiji's Welfare Department recently released research showing that between 1992 and 1997 requests for family financial assistance jumped by 46 percent.

The department also noted that requests for financial assistance for the disabled and invalids between 1991 and 1996 increased by 56 percent, while requests for similar assistance for single parents during the same period was up 64 percent.

Fiji's Director of Social Welfare, Aseri Rika, said family assistance is now being distributed outside urban limits, covering rural areas, because of the effects of Fiji's sluggish economy.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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