1:32PM

MINISTER VISITS ST MINA CHILDREN’S HOME

The Hon. Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Rosy Sofia Akbar visited the two residential homes in Nadi this week.

Mrs Akbar is the first minister to visit the St Mina Children’s Home that looks after 18 children placed there by the Department of Social Welfare.

This residential home is based at Martintar in Nadi and administered by Greek Orthodox Church in Australia.

St Mina Children’s Home administrator, Ms Shreeshti Nand acknowledged the Minister for the timely visit yesterday and looked forward for strengthened partnership with the Ministry.

“This home has just been established last year (2013) and there are 18 children looked after here. The youngest one is just two-weeks old baby who was abandoned at Nadi Hospital and the eldest one is 17 years old. It is challenging to mentor these children as they come from broken families, some having experienced domestic violence at a very young age. For some of them, they do have families, but they never visit these children.

“We have trained care givers who ensure that these children are given the care they need and our vision is to see that they grow up into responsible citizens. These children are also given for adoption and one adoption case is currently in process.

“We are really grateful to the Minister for coming to this home today and presenting the children with the Diwali gift packs. She is the first Minister to visit us and as you can see that the children are delighted with the love and compassion they have received today. We are also grateful of the Madam Minister’s assurance that the Ministry stands ready to assist us in ensuring that best care is provided to all the children at this home,” Ms Nand said.

There are currently 158 children under state care and they are being looked after at the nine residential homes in Fiji. The institutions are as follows: Dilkusha Girls Home, St Christopher’s Home and Treasure Homes in Nadi that looks after the infants and Saint Meena’s Home in Nadi and Pearly Gates Home that looks after teenage girls, Juvenile Rehabilitation and Development Centre in Suva and Veilomani Boys Home in Ba and Homes of Hope (that looks after single mothers) and Lomani Au Home in Savusavu.

Through Cabinet approval last year, the monthly allowance allocation per children in these homes increased from $60 to $100. This is called Care and Protection Allowance (C&P).

The total allowance currently paid to the residential homes from the period of January to August 2014 amounts to $104,670. St Mina Children’s Home also receives $13,070 as C&P allowances.

Likewise, a total of $75,000.00 has also been given as NGO Grants to Veilomani Boys Home, St. Christopher’s Home, Homes of Hope, and Dilkusha Children’s Home for the administrative requests made by these Homes.

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1:23PM

ST JOHN CELEBRATES 75TH ANNIVERSARY

His Excellency the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has urged the St John’s of Fiji to strengthen their ties with all stakeholders, including Government in the consolidation of efforts and sharing of resources.

The Head of State, while officiating at the St John 75th anniversary this morning, said that this was necessary so that the organisation collectively achieved a greater impact in the provision of services to all Fijians.

“St John’s Fiji has had a distinguished history and today I make the challenge to you, the current and future St John members to make the next 25 years as historic or even more memorable than the last 75 years,” Ratu Epeli said.

“I also call on the St John’s Fiji to strengthen your ties with all stakeholders including government in order to consolidate all our efforts and to share resources so that we can collectively achieve a greater impact in the provision of services to all Fijians.”

Ratu Epeli added that he was honoured to hold the appointment of patron of the order of St John.

“Today, I stand before you as your patron and I am indeed honoured to hold this appointment and to lead such an organisation that is devoted to the service of humanity,” Ratu Epeli said.

“Service that is akin to the parable of the good Samaritan and the efforts of volunteerism.”

St John Council chairman, Dr Vereniki Raiwalui said he was glad to note over 200 St John student cadets from schools in the Central Division.

“I truly believe that the youth of our nation when given the opportunities groomed with discipline and guidance will develop civic pride, patriotism and a natural sense of helping our neighbour,” Dr Raiwalui said.

“These qualities are fostered through training and guidance as a St John volunteer.”

School children braved the rainy weather conditions to showcase some of the skills learnt while being a member of St John’s at Albert Park today.

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1:14PM

AUSTRALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER TO MEET WITH FIJIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Julie Bishop will meet with senior Fijian government officials when she visits Fiji on the 31st of October, 2014.

The Australian Foreign Minister who will lead a delegation from Australia and will hold talks with Prime Minister Hon Voreqe Bainimarama.

She is also expected to hold talks with Senior Government officials including Fiji’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hon. Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.

1:04PM

FIJIAN ENVOY IN GENEVA PRESENTS CREDENTIALS TO WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION

Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the UN office in Geneva Mrs. Nazhat Shameem Khan today presented her credentials as Permanent Representative of the Republic of Fiji to the World Trade Organisation.

Ambassador Khan presented her credentials to the WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo. In so doing, Ambassador Khan became the first Permanent Representative of Fiji to the WTO to be resident in Geneva. As such, she explained to Director-General Azevedo, Fiji will do its utmost to participate effectively in the work of the WTO, to represent Fiji and where appropriate the Pacific SIDS interests at the WTO.

DG Azevedo welcomed the establishment of Fiji’s resident Mission in Geneva and said that he hoped this would allow the voice of the Pacific to be heard at the WTO, which has not been heard on a regular basis until now. He added that he hoped engagement by the WTO with the Pacific would also increase as a result of Fiji’s presence and participation at the WTO. He also expressed his wish to visit the region early in the new year. Ambassador Khan welcomed such a visit, and said that this would also help to increase focus on the WTO in Fiji and the region.

Acknowledging that the work of the WTO can be technical and detailed in nature, both Ambassador Khan and DG Azevedo agreed that Fiji should tap into assistance available through the WTO to maximise the engagement with the WTO.

Director-General Azevedo, former Brazilian Permanent Representative to the WTO, took up his post as DG of the WTO on 1 September 2013, replacing Pascal Lamy.

Ambassador Khan was also welcomed to the community of WTO Permanent Representatives at the General Council meeting of 21 October 2014.

12:22PM

FIJI TO STRENGTHEN WORKING RELATIONS WITH UNODC

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Ratu Inoke Kubuabola met with the Director-General of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Mr Yury Fedetov, in Suva today.

In welcoming Director-General Fedetov, Minister Kubuabola assured him that “Fiji supports the integrated and realistic approach of your organization in combatting these threats as we believe they cannot be tackled in isolation.

This is especially true in the 21st century when these transnational challenges are becoming widely recognized as threats ‘without barriers’ since they affect individuals and nations alike.”

The Minister also informed the Director-General that Fiji looks forward to strengthening its collaboration with UNODC over the coming years.

This includes tackling drug trafficking in the Pacific, especially through improved monitoring of container vessels, an avenue that has been used in the past in trafficking drugs through Fiji’s ports.

During his courtesy call on Minister Kubuabola, Mr Fedetov congratulated Fiji on the successful national elections concluded last month. In particular, Mr Fedetov expressed UNODC’s satisfaction with the opening of Fiji’s new overseas Mission in Geneva, Switzerland, which will be accredited to the UNODC.

Director-General Fedetov further welcomed the steps taken by the Fijian Government in aligning its national laws to international instruments on drugs, corruption and crime, which he views as positive and will facilitate Fiji’s ratification of the Palermo Convention on Transnational Crimes and other related international instruments.

The headquarters for UNODC is located in Vienna. UNODC is mandated to assist Member States in battling illicit drugs, international crime and terrorism.

Fiji will strengthen its relations with UNODC through UNODC’s regional office based in Suva.