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FIJI: Political Parties Cautious On Tuvalu-Kioa Plan

Political parties in Fiji are against suggestions by a Tuvaluan environmental expert to move the entire population of Tuvalu to an island in Fiji.

Retired scientist, Don Kennedy made the comments at a climate refugee forum in Melbourne, Australia, yesterday. He said the move would ensure the Tuvaluan culture could survive.

United People's Party president Mick Beddoes said, “moving 9000 Tuvaluan's onto Kioa, will present many problems for the island's inhabitants, especially from the point of view of education, housing, medical services, water supply, economic activity to sustain such a large number of people.”

“The economic burden associated with such a move, should be shared by Pacific island nations with the major polluting nations in funding the bulk of this cost,” said Mr Beddoes.

New Alliance Party president Ratu Epeli Ganilau said it was not an easy proposal because proper procedures needed to be followed.

National Federation Party president Raman Singh said if proper arrangements were made, Kioa would be a good place for Tuvaluans.

“They should compensate the landowner,” he said

Mr Kennedy, a Tuvaluan and leader of a campaign to move the island nation's citizens before they are swamped by rising sea levels, said he was negotiating with Tuvaluan Prime Minister Maatia Toafa to evacuate the population to the Fijian island of Kioa.

“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," Mr Kennedy told the forum, organised by Friends of the Earth (FOE).

Tuvalu, which comprises three islands and six atolls, lies 1000 kilometres north of Fiji. It is only three metres above sea level.

Kioa comes under the traditional control of the Tui Cakau, a paramount chief of the Tovata Confederacy.......Fiji Times/PNS



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