ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS OVERWHELM FIJI OFFICIALS

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 25, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Fiji's Immigration Department has admitted that it can't curb the influx of illegal Asians entering the country.

And as Radio Australia correspondent Ofa Kaukimoce reports, the disclosure has set off alarm bells in Fiji.

"Fiji is grappling with the growing crime rate among members of the Asian migrant community, many of whom have only recently taken up residency in Fiji.

"A growing number of Asians -- mainly of Chinese origin -- have come into Fiji under a business investment scheme. Most have set up small restaurants and corner stores throughout Fiji and also have been snapping up houses in upper class suburbs, paying well over the market rate.

"Other Asian illegal immigrants have slipped into the country through major airports and seaports.

"Some have become involved in a variety of criminal activities, including money laundering, drug trafficking and murder.

"The Immigration Department's admission of its shortcomings in stemming the influx has prompted Police Commissioner Isikia Savua to offer police assistance in tracking down illegal migrants. But Commissioner Savua says police must be provided with increased manpower and issued additional equipment to help the Immigration Department. He also has publicly called for amendments to Fiji's immigration laws to strengthen enforcement -- a call that has yet to draw a government response."

"Ofa Kaukimoce, Radio Australia, Suva."

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

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