Tuvalu News

Move Tuvalu Population To A Fiji Island To Ensure Survival, Scientist Says

Monday: February 20, 2006

Moving the entire population of Tuvalu to a Fijian island will ensure the Pacific nation's culture survives, a Melbourne campaigner says.

Retired scientist Don Kennedy, a Tuvaluan, made the comments at a climate refugee forum in Melbourne, Australia, Fiji Live reports.

Salinity and rising sea levels caused by climate change are expected to make Tuvalu uninhabitable within 50 years, leaving the 9000-strong population with nowhere to live.

Kennedy, who moved to Australia 40 years ago, is heading a campaign to move the island's citizens before it is swamped. He is negotiating with Tuvalu's Prime Minister Maatia Toafa to evacuate the population to the Fijian island of Kioa.

Kioa, which is higher above sea level than Tuvalu, comes under the traditional control of the Tui Cakau, a paramount chief of the Tovata confederacy. It was given for Tuvaluan people moving to Fiji because of rising flood waters and the initial hydrogen tests in the 1950s.

“I can't just close my eyes and ignore the fact that my people will soon lose their home and culture through no fault of their own,” Kennedy told the forum, organised by Friends of the Earth (FOE) as part of the Sustainable Living Festival.

Relocating the population to Kioa would ensure the survival of the Tuvaluan culture.

“A mass relocation would ensure the Tuvaluan language and culture is preserved instead of being scattered to the four corners of the earth,” he said.

Tuvalu, which comprises three islands and six atolls totalling 26sqkm, lies about 1000km north of Fiji. It is only 3m above sea level.

About 150 million people are expected to be displaced around the world as a result of climate change, according to FOE. It says Australia has yet to recognise or accept climate refugees despite being one of the world's worst greenhouse polluters......FijiLive/PNS


Additional link:

Donald Kennedy speaks with The Age (Australia) in August 2004. Included is a photograph of Mr. Kennedy.

Accessed Feb 21, 2006

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