Wednesday, 6 May 2009 4:41 AM

Carteret Islanders - First Climate Refugees

Carteret Islanders of Papua New Guinea have become the first climate refugees as they relocate to new sites to escape the effects of climate change on their homeland.

According to PNG's Post Courier, the islanders moved to their new homes, Tinputz, the relocation site, last Wednesday to prepare the land for their families to move over permanently.

According to the report, fathers of the first five families to relocate arrived on the shores of Tinputz on Wednesday, bringing along their sons to support them in the work leading up to the time when their wives and children will eventually join them.

There were reports in the media earlier in the year and even late last year stating that the Carteret Islanders will be the first refugees of climate change and this has come to pass.

According to the report, head of a non-government organisation, Tulele Peisa, Ursula Rakova 'said they had raised K15,000 [US$5, 500] to bring these families over to Tinputz and denied the Bougainville Administration did nothing to help with the relocation program'.

She said they were able to build sago houses for these five families and are hoping the government intervenes to provide funds for iron roofing and other necessities.

Ms. Rakova said that the five fathers were met by the Tinputz community, representatives of the Tinputz Parish Council and Tulele Peisa on arrival which was 'quiet but a significant historic occasion and to a traditional welcome ceremony performed by women from Tinputz'.

Mandated by the elders from Carterets to fast-track the relocation of the islanders, Tulele Peisa has for 3 years been working in close partnership and dialogue with the Catholic Church of Bougainville for land to voluntary resettle some families from the Carterets which resulted in the Church giving 41 hectares of land.

"Carterets Islanders want to relocate to mainland," she said. "They want to begin true relationships with their host community partners, get involved in some income generating activities to sustain their lives." The five families were chosen from a criteria set by Tulele Peisa with the emphasis on size of family, whether a family has enough to feed on the island, access to paying school fees and medical services and the whether the family is able to survive on the island for the next two years."