TUVALU APPROACH DOESN'T MEAN WE'RE DESPERATE:
SYDNEY, Australia (November 14, 2001 –PINA Nius Online)---An approach to
Tuvalu to process asylum seekers does not mean Australia is becoming
desperate, Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said yesterday, the
Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Tuvalu Secretary to Government Panapa Nelesone says his country has
received a verbal request from Canberra to process asylum seekers, but
as yet no official approach had been made.
One of the world's smallest nations, low lying Tuvalu has a population
of 11,000 spread over nine atolls with a land area of just 26 square
kilometers (10.4 square miles).
Australia's approach came just months after the Australian government
rebuffed an approach from Tuvalu to establish a special immigration
program. This was to help Tuvalu's people, as rising sea levels
threatened its islands, the Sydney Morning Herald said.
Mr. Ruddock denied the request to Tuvalu signified desperation as Papua
New Guinea and Nauru reassessed their involvement in Australia's
so-called "Pacific Solution" to asylum seekers.
"It's not a question of desperation," he told ABC radio. "I think what
it suggests is that in relation to the various countries of the Pacific,
some of which have expressed an interest in participating in such
arrangements, that we'd be exploring with all of them what those
possibilities might be."
He said Kiribati had also been approached, while Fiji also considered
Australia -- faced with thousands of Middle Eastern and Afghan asylum
seekers trying to reach it by boat and claim refugee status -- has used
its military to stop them.
It is making arrangements with island countries to accept the boat
people and process their applications for refugee status.
Mr. Ruddock's comments came as Ireland revealed it was considering
accepting Afghan refugees refused entry into Australia after an appeal
from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
In a thinly veiled criticism of Australian policy, Irish junior minister
Liz O'Donnell said her government must respond generously to the plight
of Afghan refugees, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
"We have been approached by the UNHCR to assist some Afghan refugees who
have found themselves unwanted in the South Seas," she told ABC radio.
"Australia has refused to take them and we are considering a request, a
humanitarian request, to accept some Afghan refugees."
Ms. O'Donnell said Ireland believed it must play its role in
humanitarian endeavors in the international community.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard told the ABC's 7.30 Report on
Monday that countries being used as processing centers would have to
find third countries for the boatpeople. They would also have to deal
with the issue of what to do with those that are not found to be genuine
refugees, he said.
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta’s office last night
maintained that Papua New Guinea was just a processing center, the Papua
New Guinea Post-Courier reported.
Mr. Howard, when asked what would happen to refugees on islands like
Nauru once they were processed and identified, said Australia would take
its share of refugees but expected other countries to do the same.
In Fiji, Radio FM96 reported Foreign Affairs Minister Kaliopate Tavola
as saying the Fiji government is now looking at the implications of
bringing asylum seekers into Fiji.
Mr. Tavola said Fiji wants a guarantee from the Australian government
that it will take all the Afghan and Iraqi asylum seekers out of Fiji
after processing their applications.
Mr. Tavola said Fiji is also concerned about the possibility of the
women giving birth at a processing center in Fiji.
He said legislation may have to be changed to ensure that the children
born at the center will not become Fiji citizens.
GREENPEACE SAYS TUVALU ASYLUM SEEKER PLAN "RIDICULOUS"
SUVA, Fiji Islands (November 14, 2001 – Radio Australia)---Greenpeace
says it is ridiculous for the Australian government to consider asking
the small Pacific island country of Tuvalu to accept asylum seekers for
As part of its "Pacific Solution" which involves sending asylum seekers
to Pacific island nations, the Federal Government has had informal talks
with the government of Tuvalu.
Last year, Australia rejected a request from Tuvalu to take part in a
resettlement program for its residents, who are facing threats to fresh
water sources and crops caused by rising sea levels.
Angie Heffernan, a Pacific-based Greenpeace campaigner, said Australia
is now being hypocritical.
"You've got Tuvalu, a small island state under, you know, threat of
losing their islands because of climate change, with very limited
financial resources to actually respond," she said.
"You have a very big nation like Australia turning around, saying to
Tuvalu can you take our asylum seekers?"
PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT
Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of
TUVALU DENIES BEING PRESSURED BY AUSTRALIA ABOUT ASYLUM SEEKERS
FUNAFUTI, Tuvalu (November 22, 2001 – Radio Australia)---Secretary to
Government Panapasa Nelesone has denied media reports that Australia is
exerting pressure on Tuvalu to take asylum seekers rejected by Canberra
He said a recent verbal proposal from Australia was only an attempt to
sound out the government's position on the matter.
Although Tuvalu has asked Australia to submit a formal written request,
Nelesone said that should not be interpreted as a sign of acceptance.
He didn't rule out using as a bargaining chip Tuvalu's recently denied
request to Australia to accept Tuvaluan citizens in the event that the
Polynesian island group becomes uninhabitable because of rising sea
levels, Radio Australia reported.
LITTLE EVIDENCE TO SHOW PACIFIC OCEAN RISING DUE TO GLOBAL WARMING:
By Michael Field
KOROR, Palau (October 4, 1999 – Agence France-Presse)---Pacific
countries claiming to be losing islands and land to the rising ocean may
be doing it to themselves rather than as a consequence of any man-made
global warming effect, South Pacific Forum officials were told here
The director of Australia’s National Tidal Facility of Flinders
University, Wolfgang Scherer, told a briefing that it was possible that
the Pacific might be rising by up to two millimeters a year, but the
effect was wildly variable across the region.
In some places, such as Rabaul in Papua New Guinea, rising land levels
are occurring due to volcanoes, while part of Australia is rising,
causing a lowering of sea level.
The 30th South Pacific Forum summit is under way here Monday with
climate change a major agenda issue. Leaders have tended to portray the
issue in terms of the industrial world creating a global environment
which is leading to rising sea levels and the flooding of low-lying
Earlier this year, Kiribati claimed two of its islets in Tarawa had
"disappeared" due to rising sea levels while Tuvalu, to the south,
claims its coastline is sinking due to what it says is the rising sea
level caused by global warming.
Scherer, who is part of a Pacific-wide sea level monitoring program,
said it was virtually impossible to identify any manmade effects on sea
"You are playing a millimeter game with millimeter effects," he said,
and added he would not want to speculate at this point on whether
anything long term was happening to the sea level.
The data, he said, are too little and too recent.
However, he said it was clear that relative sea level rises in places
like Kiribati may have nothing to do with the global situation but
rather with the way in which the local freshwater aquifers under each
atoll are used.
If they are over used by the local population, atolls themselves can
rise and fall, letting in more seawater to the fresh ground water and
flooding garden pits, giving the effect of sea level rises.
"The land itself is not stable. It is moving and often it is moving
because of local issues."
He said the early data suggested that the Pacific sea level might be
rising by an average of two millimeters a year, but this is not uniform
across the region and findings often are based on data less than 10
In Kiribati, the data show the sea level fell by 21 millimeters while,
just to the north, the Marshalls show it rose 2.9 millimeters.
"We are not finding places where the sea level rise is very strong,"
Scientists have little idea of what is happening to the land itself,
whether it is rising or falling, and have no solid information on what
the seabed floor is doing.
"The question is, what is happening to the volume of the oceans? That is
the real critical question.... and we are a long way from being able to
(solve) that problem."
While scientists cannot demonstrate any sea-level rise or any
relationship to manmade activities, Scherer said there was the
possibility of global warming still leading to an acceleration in the
rise. This could occur through a speeding up of El Niño events, which
tended to increase the sea level in the Pacific.
"We cannot preclude the very definite possibility that the ocean may
respond with an acceleration of sea level rise, even in the shorter