24 February 2016

PRESS RELEASE: Coalition commends disaster response efforts, calls for national unity

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights has joined the nation-wide efforts to assist those most affected by Tropical Cyclone Winston. The Coalition recognises that communities are the experts on their needs in this time of disaster, and supports a community-led, human rights-based and inclusive approach to disaster recovery, with consideration for the needs of women, children, disabled persons, LGBTQI persons and other marginalised groups. Some of these groups may not be formal community leaders but are playing an important role in recovery or have particular needs that must be urgently addressed.

“We have been awed by the resilience of our Fijian people in the face of this devastation. We have heard amazing stories of women carrying their communities to safety and protecting them during the storm, of first responders working tirelessly through the night, of women and men of all ages working together to rebuild and survive the hard weeks ahead,” said Coalition Chair, Tara Chetty.

“We need to work together to support these community efforts, in a way that reaches the most vulnerable and marginalised. Communities have experienced a lot of personal trauma, and response efforts, commentary and coverage will need to be sensitive to this.”

The Coalition commends government, national coordination bodies, UN agencies and civil society response to the crisis, and calls for continued and strengthened cooperation across cultural and political divides.

“This is a time for us to come together as a nation, leaving aside political allegiances and differences. It is an opportunity for Government, Opposition, and people in all their diversity to work together in support of our devastated communities.”

“The challenge is to ensure that assistance reaches all affected communities equally, efficiently and without bias.”

Members of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights, a group of non-governmental organisations who promote human rights in Fiji, are working in support of national response efforts, in line with our expertise and organisational mandates.

ENDS.

For further information contact Tara Chetty on +679-9268342 or