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BOUGAINVILLE’S CATERETS SLOWLY SLIPPING AWAY Residents of low atolls struggle with rising tide

By Augustine Kinna

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, May 9, 2008) – The remote Atoll Islands of Caterets in the Autonomous Region of Boungaville (ABG) has been hit hard by the rising sea level a few months ago.

According to a local Caterets islander, Oscar Kahi, the rising sea level in the area is causing anxiety amongst the people.

[PIR editor’s note: The remote Atoll Islands of Caterets is made up of islands named Han, Jangain, Yesila, Yolasa and Piul, and were collectively named after the British navigator Philip Carteret who discovered them in the sloop Swallow in 1767. As of 2005 about one thousand people lived on the islands. Han is the most significant island with the others being small islets in the lagoon. The island is near the edge of the large geologic formation called the Ontong Java Plateau.]

"Everyday the sea level is rising, we find ourselves and our houses in danger during the high tide," Mr Kahi said.

He said the island population does not have gardens to sustain their livelihood because of the rising sea level.

Mr Kahi added that their shorelines are rapidly being eaten away by the sea and is contaminating their fresh water for drinking.

"The situation is worsening and it’s about time the ABG and the authorities concerned fast track the relocation programme," Mr Kahi said.

He challenged the ABG to help the people of Caterets with food supplies and fresh water as they are in dire need.

Mr Kahi revealed that the people feel neglected and want to see that the Government does care about their current situation.

"We are hopeless and have nothing left for our future due to the fact that our island home is sinking under the ocean," Mr Kahi said.

He also made an appeal to aid donor agencies and the people of Boungaville to assist them with funds for their relocation programme.

Mr Kahi said they have created an organisation called Tulele Peisa that is headed by Ursula Rakova for the relocation programme.

"All we want is for the Government or whoever is generous to help us and nothing else," Mr Kahi said.

He said the rising sea level is a crisis on its own where the islanders are fighting a losing battle that is beyond human control.

The National:

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