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37 out of 700 children still missing since 2014

Thirty-seven children are listed as missing in Fiji from about 700 that have been reported missing since 2014.

In August, Fiji’s Parliament was told about the need for a police investigation report on the country’s missing children.

According to Mr Seruiratu, the police report found that out of 723 children missing, 686 had been found.

But, he says the number of children who went missing in those years is alarming.

“There’s so many reasons. One is the situation at home. Some maybe because of social and economic issues at home. Some are related to harassment and of course peer pressure. These are the various reasons young people are leaving their homes.”

Inia Seruiratu says the government is working with the social welfare ministry to address the issue.

He says out of the 37 children missing since 2014, 23 were girls and 14 were boys.

Welfare officer Divenesh Kumar says he has been working with children for five years and recently completed a case management training course at the department.

“I’ve learned to work more effectively when dealing with cases concerning children. And the prompt response that needs to be given when the referrals come to us. There are intervention strategies that are in place to deal with in regards to child abuse cases or neglect cases.”

Child advocate Ateca Kaloumaira has been working with young people for 15 years and says the family is the main component.

“From the first step to the last, I had to include [the family]. It’s important to follow all the processes and documentation.”

The police report also found that out of the 150 children reported missing in 2016, 116 were girls.

Ms Kaloumaira says working with children in need resonates with her.

“I have four children and I am a grandmother of four. My daughter. What this has taught me is to listen to her. She’s in class seven. I’ve had two marriages and this has taught me to listen, to listen more.”

Ms Kaloumaira says she needs to start with her own family at home first before she can help other children.

“I only hope that my daughter is well-equipped with regards to positive parenting. She’s young, she has a young family. She has two children – juggling with work. And I just know the scenario there with the cost of living and all that. So I can share with her. We learn and share the knowledge.”

The police report also found that the indigenous iTaukei ethnic group dominated the number of children still missing with 26 – a dramatic surge of 13 recorded so this year.

Inia Seruiratu says police are continuing investigations into the missing children.

Source : RadioNZ

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