Tuvalu News

Repatriation Of I-Kiribati, Tuvaluan Workers To Cost AUD$1M

Tuesday: February 28, 2006

The repatriation of I-Kiribati and Tuvaluan workers and their families stranded on Nauru is estimated to cost as much as AUD$1million (US$740,000).

The figure is part of a proposal jointly put forward by the Kiribati and Tuvalu governments to the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) when they met at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat today.

Tuvalu’s High Commissioner to Fiji, Seve Paeniu told PACNEWS the offer is the cheaper option compared to that offered by IOM.

“We did make progress in the sense that we agreed to use our national carriers, vessels which is a perhaps a much better arrangement or alternative to the original plan that the IOM have been working on for few months now,” Mr Paeniu said. “The next step is for the IOM to decide the project along that approach.”

“That will be the basis the IOM together with the Forum Secretariat would lobby donors to secure funding,” the Tuvaluan High Commissioner said.

The Kiribati and Tuvaluan governments are hoping that Australia would commit funds for the repatriation project

“We are hoping that the Australians would come on board because we think they have a role to play,” Mr Paeniu said. “They were involved in the mining of phosphate in Nauru. They benefited extensively in the past so there is definitely a role for Australia.”

Both governments stressed the urgency of addressing the problem as the stranded workers are desperate to get back home.

PACNEWS understands there are 1060 I-Kiribati workers and their dependants while Tuvalu has 371 of their nationals on Nauru of which 95 are workers.

Kiribati High Commissioner to Fiji, Reteta Nikuata – Rimon told PACNEWS they want the issue to be resolved as soon as possible hopefully by the end of the first quarter of 2006........PNS

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