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NOUMEA, New Caledonia (August 31, 2000 – Oceania Flash/SPC)---The small Fijian community residing in New Caledonia has launched an appeal to collect funds and necessities for families who have suffered from the May 19 coup, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

"This is to help the affected families. We are collecting everything people here want to offer with their heart, whether non-perishable goods, clothes or even money," organizer Adi Sau Cava said.

She said donations will be accepted until September 5.

According to latest statistics released in the Fiji Islands, some 7,000 people have lost their jobs as a result of the adverse impact of the May 19 coup on the local economy, including tourism, one of its main pillars.

Only about twenty Fijian families reside in the French territory.

Fijians collecting the donations include Siteri Singh, Adi Mei Vesikula, Seini Talica and Tonu Singh.

Materials collected are expected to be shipped to Fiji on September 9, on the "Moana," Adi Cava said.

She says Adi Litia Qionibaravi, from the Fijian government’s social affairs office, will assist in distribution of the goods.



NOUMEA, New Caledonia (August 31, 2000 – Oceania Flash/SPC)---New Caledonia’s maritime school has received its first navigation simulating device, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The high-tech electronic device allows maritime students to be placed in a typical commanding situation, for instance at the helm of a 25-meter (82.5-foot) trawler, with a three-screen view (front and both sides).

Four other screens simulate the ship’s instruments (radar, satellite positioning, automatic pilot, compass, wind speed). Appropriate sound effects also are added.

"For the time being, it is configured to simulate the port of Cherbourg (France)," maritime school director Christian Blanchard said.

"But we are going to change those parameters to simulate Noumea Harbor."

After an initial training period to learn how to operate the 11 million French Pacific Francs (around US$ 100,000) facility, the machine is scheduled to start being used in classes beginning in November.



NOUMEA, New Caledonia (August 31, 2000 – Oceania Flash/SPC)---Fourteen Chinese boat people who arrived in New Caledonia three years ago have been granted political refugee status, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

Five others earlier were granted residency by OFPRA (French Office for Refugees and Stateless Persons).

A special committee was formed to study the appeal requests of 80 of the Chinese boat people.

Three years ago, on November 5 and 17, 1997, two ships with 110 Chinese citizens on board landed in New Caledonia.

Most of them were in poor health after having fled China.

They were first accommodated in camps, but as days went by, their cause started to gain support within the local population. Others, however, saw the arrival of the Chinese as a threat to the balance of the territory’s population of 200,000.

Political refugee status was granted according to Article 1 of the Geneva Convention, which stipulates that proof must be made of "a real danger in returning to (the person’s) country of origin."

Some applicants managed to produce documents sent by their families who stayed back in China showing that officials wanted the refugees and, therefore, they would be in danger if they returned.

Since 1997, ten refugees have asked to go back to China, while the others started to gradually integrate into the life of the territory, including finding jobs.

Twelve babies have been born within the group, who could become French citizens.

And fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters still in China can also apply for permanent residency because of their next of kin status.

Apart from the 14 who have been found eligible to stay in New Caledonia, the status of another 66 (including a woman who married a Frenchman) still remains to be formally determined. Another 25 are near to receiving residency approval.

Rejected applicants can still make a further appeal before the French State Council.

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