AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND CALLED ON TO TAKE INDO-FIJIAN REFUGEES

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (December 29, 2000)---Australia and New Zealand are being called on to host Fiji’s ethnic Indian refugees on a temporary basis.

The main Hindu religious organization in New Zealand, the Sanatan Dharam, says it is helping coordinate relief efforts for Indo-Fijians, but the situation is getting worse.

Spokesman Babu Gyan Singh says there are many destitute and homeless Indo-Fijians who could be looked after in Australia and New Zealand until democracy is restored in Fiji.

"In the area which I'm supposed to be looking after, which is Rakiraki, Tavua, and Ba, there are about nine thousand people who are homeless at this stage," Sing said.

"We would love see that people who are in real need of shelter, have a place to live.

"If those people are looked into straight away, if they have no place to live and we can temporarily -- if Australia and New Zealand -- can temporarily accommodate them until such time as these issues are resolved and democracy is back in Fiji, I think that would be the most appropriate thing to do."

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

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