RISING SEA A REALITY FOR PNG’S LOW ATOLLS

Editorial

PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 22, 2008) – The tides of change are washing over the shores of many parts of Papua New Guinea . . . literally.

Rising sea levels, an issue of academic interest in the past, are now a current worry for thousands of Papua New Guineans.

While road access has panicked the people of the Highlands in recent weeks, the forces of nature in the form of climate change have been causing nightmares for the people who live on hundreds if not thousands of coral atolls scattered across Papua New Guinea’s seas.

Two news item in today’s Post-Courier serve to remind us of the fate facing our atolls people.

One is an item from Manus, saying how Waigani officials will be shown a current stretch of the Manus coastline where atolls people are planning to settle, as they flee from the rising waters.

The report says the atolls problem got suddenly worse after much of the vegetation was cut down and the sea swept inland, ruining gardens and living conditions.

The other item is about the people of Bougainville’s Carteret islands.

The Carterets’ plight has been beamed around the world, with many knowing that these people are among the first to be directly affected by climate change.

It is all the more important for the nation of Papua New Guinea to show that we are fully aware of their dilemma and are working to help them.

So it is worrying to hear that money allocated by the National Government for resettlement is missing.

The atolls people have been planning this move for more than a decade.

Talks are going on with the Catholic Church in Bougainville and a relocation committee for homes to be built in the Tinputz area of North Bougainville and the first 10 houses are due to be erected at a cost of K25,000 [US$9,505.20].

That’s truly a drop in the ocean when it comes to resettling a whole community, but the money is not there!

Now is the time to act and in both cases, the provincial and regional governments must work in concert with the national government to save these people and provide them a future.

It’s a matter of humanity and is also, sadly, an issue of national image.

If we drop the ball in this game of survival, we will stand condemned in the eyes of the world.

Leaders, sort it out please.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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