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NIUE: No Reponse Yet To Tuvalu's Resettlement Proposal

Pacific Magazine

Thursday: January 12, 2006

Niue is yet to respond to a Tuvalu Government proposal to resettle its citizens on Niue.

Tuvalu Prime Minister, Maatia Toafa told PACNEWS the two governments are discussing some finer details of the plan before moving Tuvaluans to Niue.

PACNEWS understands one of the issues to be ironed out is the provision of homes to Tuvaluans. Also their status on Niue needs to be explained before the plan is implemented.

Mr Toafa said the Niue government is liaising with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat on the issue.

“The number of people that will be relocated to Niue will be up to the Niue government, that is, how many people the small island state can handle,” Mr Toafa told PACNEWS.

Niue’s Secretary to Parliament, Crossley Tatui confirmed to PACNEWS that his government is treading on the issue cautiously before embarking on an ambitious project.

“We don’t want to bring in people when we don’t have accommodation for them,” Mr Tatui said. “We need to get the infrastructure right”

Meanwhile the Catholic Earthcare Australia chair Bishop Christopher Toohey says Australia should show “openness and compassion” towards Pacific Islanders facing homelessness due to climate change.

The Catholic Weekly reports that rising sea levels caused by climate change have resulted in the loss of land, crops and freshwater supplies on many of the Pacific Islands.

The Federal Government has twice refused requests to resettle the population of Tuvalu, where 3000 people have fled.

Residents on the Cartaret islands in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu's Tegua Island have been evacuated and some of the Kiribati islands are already under water.

Bishop Toohey said: “New Zealand and even Canada have responded to the environmental crisis, it seems bizarre that we, as the closest nation, have not come to their aid.”

New Zealand has agreed to accept migrants from Tuvalu, which experts believe will be completely submerged by mid century, and Canada is funding the relocation of residents from parts of Vanuatu affected by global warming.

Bishop Toohey said climate change was a problem that we simply cannot ignore.

“Whether we like it or not, at the end of the day, this is a problem that we need to do something about because it is not just going to go away,” he said......PNS

 

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