Land sought for burial ground for migrant workers

Monday April 06, 2020 Written by Published in Local
The Catholic cemetery in Panama  is full, and the Bishop says there’s the possibility old graves could be reopened. 18060301 The Catholic cemetery in Panama is full, and the Bishop says there’s the possibility old graves could be reopened. 18060301

Government is in talks to provide land for a Fijian community cemetery, as the Covid-19 pandemic and travel bans mean it will not be possible to send bodies home to their families.

The cost of sending a dead body as cargo to Fiji is around $20,000.

Like everyone, the Fijian community is hoping and praying there will be no deaths if the Covid-19 reaches this country.

But Internal Affairs Minister Mac Mokoroa said government was discussing providing family land or Crown land to be used as a cemetery. The Catholic Church was also considering extending its cemetery in Panama.

Bishop Paul Donoghue said he had been arguing since last year for more space to bury the dead.

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“Our cemetery at Panama is full,” he said. “My understanding is this cemetery was for members of the Catholic Church, who were from the outer islands and if they died could be buried on Rarotonga.

“In other words, they had no land on Rarotonga. Government is aware that the Panama cemetery is full. But we have not discussed a solution.

“Burials have taken place recently here when old graves could be reopened. I am interested in what solutions might come out of Covid-19.”

The Fijian, Filipino, Samoan and Tongan communities have all had well-attended meetings over the past week, with questions aboug the government package available to those who are laid off work.

Mokoroa added the focus now is to start cleaning up, to limit the spread of dengue cases. The public is encouraged to clean up their home surroundings.

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