Climate-Induced Migration From Kiribati Coming Within 5 Years

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Former President Tong gives grim assessment at conference

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 16, 2016) – People will have to start leaving Kiribati within five years because rising seas are making life there unsustainable.

The country's outgoing president Anote Tong said the accelerating effects of climate change meant he had given up dealing with the day-to-day issues to concentrate on finding creative solutions for his low-lying country.

He told a climate change conference in Wellington those include building up the atolls, floating islands and buying land in Fiji.

Mr Tong said he had also tried to motivate the 100,000 strong population to prepare and adapt themselves for what he calls migration with dignity.

"People are getting quite scared now and we need immediate solutions. This is why I want to rush the solutions so there will be a sense of comfort for our people. They can sleep even when the tide is high."

Mr Tong said there had been some criticism of Kiribati's purchase of land in Fiji, but he said its main value has been the international publicity and giving his people a sense of security.

[PIR editor’s note: On Feb. 15, 2016 RNZI reported that ‘The president of Kiribati is hoping wealthy individuals like Bill Gates will come to his country's rescue and provide funds to deal with the effects of climate change. … Anote Tong said the global private sector could provide small island countries like his with billions of dollars to adapt to rising seas and more intense storms. … Kiribati and several other small island countries in the Pacific are in the process of setting up a money-raising initiative called Pacific Rising to capture such funds.’]

 

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