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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Nov. 27) - Inhabitants of Cateret Islands in the autonomous region of Bougainville will become the world's first refugees and victims of climate change threatening small island nations around the world.

Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) President Joseph Kabui told reporters at a media conference recently that the rising sea level was now getting worse in the atolls of Caterets which was rapidly "eating" away the island’s shoreline and many have moved inland.

[PIR editor’s note: The Cateret Islands are a group of five small islands located on a circular atoll about 50 miles northeast of Bougainville, in Papua New Guinea. See CNN video on the islanders’ predicament.]

"The situation on Caterets Island is becoming very devastating to its inhabitants, leaving the islanders homeless with nothing to survive on," reports The National.

He said his government had developed a comprehensive resettlement policy to assist the people. Mr. Kabui said the North Solomon’s provincial government prior to the Bougainville crisis had in place a resettlement scheme at the Kuveria Plantation to accommodate the islanders.

"Now we are trying to review the resettlement scheme at Kuveria to cater for the Caterets Islanders," he said.

He congratulated the Tulele Peisa Inc, a locally-based organization that is taking the initiative to assist the people of Caterets to relocate to the mainland. The organization had helped the islanders since the news of the rising sea levels.

"The people of Caterets Island must accept the fact that their island home is now sinking and there is nothing they can do but the only option left for them is to move out," Kabui said.

He said his government would support the people living in the island and try to negotiate for relocation as soon as possible.

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