BOUGAINVILLE FOOD DRIVE READIES HELP FOR STARVING CATERET

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, May 28) - A Bougainville
Administrator says food donated by local villages will be shipped to the 2,000
people said to be starving in the remote Cateret Islands.

The Cateret Islands, like Kiribati and the Marshall Islands, has
been losing ground to rising sea levels blamed on global warming – the
accumulation of carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere.

In February of 2001, landowners in PNG’s East New Britain
province agreed to allow Duke of York islanders threatened by rising sea levels
to move to the mainland. About 2,000 people living in Bougainville’s atoll
island of Cateret have also asked to be moved to higher ground in the mainland,
but lack of government funds have prevented the move.

Franklyn Lacey, Bougainville Provincial Administration
Executive, said there has been positive feedback to the food drive he began
after the National Disaster Office admitted there were no immediate funds
available to help the islanders.

Lacey said the islanders are suffering from malnutrition as
there is no food on the Caterets because high tides have destroyed crops and
gardens.

He said for the past five months they have been surviving solely
on the fish they catch.

Lacey said the situation is so bad that school has been
suspended indefinitely so that children can help find food.

But he said a shipment of food supplies will go to the Caterets
this weekend.

"At present now we are getting feed back from people....
They are gathering food, kaukau, sweet potato, banana and whatever the people
can supply for us to take over to the island. On the 31st, we are picking up
foodstuffs, then we are taking them over to the island."

May 28, 2003

Radio New Zealand International: http://www.rnzi.com/ 

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