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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 14, 2001 – Fiji’s Daily Post)---The number of Fiji nationals who have migrated to Australia has increased by 24 percent since last May.

Australian High Commissioner to Fiji Susan Boyd announced the statistic during the Platinum Jubilee of the Then India Sanmarga Ikya Sangam in Nadi.

"The increase in numbers is most marked in the skilled stream. The proportion of skilled migrants has increased from less than half to 65 percent of the total," she said.

"Skilled migration approvals into Australia have increased by exactly 50 percent since the coup.

"Our estimate is that some 90 percent of the successful migrants since May 19 come from the Indo-Fijian community."

The 10 percent who are Indigenous Fijians are also highly skilled.

Ms. Boyd said the whole migration outflow means a loss of skills, which Fiji needs if it is to continue to develop and provide a better standard of living for all its citizens.

"Those who have left include many accountants, nurses, academics and those with computer skills and also senior public servants.

"The University of the South Pacific has lost many of its teaching staff with skills and knowledge needed not only by Fiji but by other island states of the South Pacific.

"The number of student visas has increased by about 10 percent. Since Australia has suspended all new AusAID scholarships under our smart sanctions policy, this means that the absolute number of private students going to Australia has increased by about 25 percent."

Ms Boyd said the unhappy state of affairs in Fiji has posed great challenges both to the TISI Sangam and to the indo-Fijian community as a whole.

"We in Australia are committed to a multicultural, multi-ethnic community, because we know that therein lies our strength," she said.

"It is important to acknowledge that modern Fiji is the unique, wonderful place that it is today also precisely because of its multicultural nature.

"If Fiji is to continue to remain a strong, successful and desirable place and if it is to continue to enjoy its role and influence as a full and valued member of the Commonwealth and the international community as a whole, then it must ensure that each and every one of its citizens feels secure and has appropriate access to the opportunities and resources of the country."

She further said Australia has been a longtime friend of Fiji and its economic partner.

"In our reactions to the events of May 19, we sought to play a helpful, not a harmful, role," she said.

"We used our influence to encourage Fiji's leaders to find a right path forward. We resisted pressures from some quarters to apply punitive sanctions, because we knew these would hurt only the poor people of Fiji."

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/FijiLive.

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