The Kiribati Independent

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Sept. 9, 2011) – The world should be clear that the Kiribati government is not using climate change to find an alternative place for its people for a better life. I-Kiribati people, especially the elders, refused to relocate. Although the water becomes brackish and salty; although their crops have been washed away; but they still don’t want to leave.

But the problem is real, it’s there in Kiribati. The statements Cabinet Secretary Teekota Iuta made to the Kiribati government delegations to the Forum summit had a feeling that bigger countries blamed them for using the climate change as an excuse to relocate. Leaders reaffirmed that climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific.

They welcomed the historic visit of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the Pacific to see firsthand the degree of vulnerability of the people of the Pacific to the adverse impacts of climate change and sea level rise, as exemplified by the case of Kiribati.

They also welcomed the presentation by the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and support for regional efforts and strong international action to address the impacts of climate change. Foreign Affairs secretary Tessie Lambourne said climate change should not be just about words, it should be about ‘action’.

Raikaon Tumon, former senior fisheries official in Kiribati said while the Kiribati government focused its attention on climate change, the arrival of Kiribati people in New Zealand via the Pacific Access Category should also be given some thorough considerations. Raikaon also said Kiribati’s quota was small and if the government sees climate change as a real threat then it should ask New Zealand to re-consider the country’s quota per year. The quota is 75 families every year.

That is not the end of the story. When these people arrive in New Zealand, there were many hassles they must deal with. ‘To find a job offer, which may take even months while they stay with their relatives or friends, they run out of cash,’ he said. He asked if the governments of Kiribati and New Zealand could consider the issue of granting a short term work visa for the applicants when they arrive in the country.

President Anote Tong was aware with the growing popularity of New Zealand's PAC and RSE among the I-Kiribati on the islands and said he would look into the issues raised. Tong said his government has looked into ways of training its people in technical and skilled jobs so they have no difficulties accessing to job opportunities when they migrate.

The Kiribati Independent

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