FIJI COUP SPARKS BRAIN DRAIN

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By Anne Barker

SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 24, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Professional workers, including teachers, doctors and accountants, are resigning in droves and leaving the country, many for Australia.

The Australian High Commission in Suva said it has had a rush of migration applications since last month's coup.

Key professional organizations, including the teachers’ union and an organization of accountants, are reporting mass resignations of staff wanting to leave Fiji permanently because of the ongoing political crisis.

The accountants’ institute says it expects to lose at least 20 percent of Fiji's accountants overseas.

The brain drain, brought on by last month’s coup, is devastating some professions and exacerbating Fiji's economic woes.

The teachers’ union says schools now have to resort to hiring staff with sub-standard qualifications.

The Australian High Commission is continuing to process migration applications, but says even those Fijians who are granted visas could be waiting up to 15 months to leave.

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

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