Despite the islands that make up Fiji being undoubtedly some of the most beautiful places on Earth, the country is currently going through a drug crisis thanks to its location right at the centre of the world’s trafficking route.
Fijians have been struggling to cope with the huge influx of cocaine and meth that has been washing up on the islands’ shores in recent years. As well as placing immense strain on the country’s under-resourced police officers, there’s also major concerns over what the drugs will do the reefs and surround wildlife, not to mention the worry that locals could consume some of the readily available drugs.
According to The Guardian, locals in the Federated States of Micronesia started using cocaine as washing powder until they discovered it wasn’t lathering.
Superintendent Brett Kidner, who served as a senior liaison officer for the Australian federal police in the Pacific region, told the publication ‘in Tahiti in 2017 a boat full of cocaine exploded on a remote reef. Weeks later police discovered an island almost totally addicted to cocaine.’
Our biggest concern was that people may think these packages contain sugar, powdered toothpaste or they may think it was baking powder or something along those lines and as a result subject their families to a harm that they shouldn’t have been subjected to.
Sitiveni Qiliho, spent more than 25 years in the country’s army before becoming police commissioner in November 2015, taking on the nation’s drug battle.
It’s what movie scripts are made of. All the Hollywood blockbuster movies about drugs are centred around this script, I don’t watch movies, I deal with it in real life.
But according to Quiliho, not all Fiji’s residents are naïve to the substances washing up on their shores, explaining:
We picked up information that some fishermen going out diving were not after fish any more.
They were after these packages because of the money that is being offered, a few thousand dollars. It was quick, easy money.
Despite resources in the country being sparse, Quiliho is determined to get to the bottom of the problem.
It’s something we can’t afford to take our foot off the pedal. We’ve got to maintain that momentum and keep fighting, only then will we succeed.
We’ve seen the effects of drug usage in other countries, we don’t want that.
I wouldn’t want to retire and be an old man in the village and have one of my mates come up to me when we’re sitting around having kava and say, ‘Man, you were the commissioner of police and you did nothing about it, and see where Fiji is now.’
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the LADbible Group team in 2017.