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Fiji to help Kiribati

Torika Tokalau
Tuesday, December 10, 2013

THE Fiji Government will not turn its back on the nation of Kiribati in its hour of need.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, speaking at the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Conservation and Protected Areas last week, said the Government of Kiribati had bought six thousand acres of land on Vanua Levu.

"If the sea level continues to rise because the world won't tackle global warming, some or all of the people of Kiribati may have to come to live in Fiji," the PM said.

"In historical terms, this is an unprecedented scenario - a sovereign country and member of the UN simply ceasing to exist in physical form."

He said Fiji had accepted the Banaban people in 1945 when they moved to Rabi Island. And now his government was facing a range of unprecedented and perplexing decisions as it contemplated giving them refuge against the rising sea.

"The Banaban homeland was not a sovereign state. The citizens of Kiribati most certainly are.

"We clearly cannot have another sovereign nation within our borders. So what do we do? Are these people prepared to become Fijians? Can they be dual nationals of Kiribati and Fiji? How will the whole thing work?

"These are just some of the aspects we are having to consider as the climate change crisis escalates."