Thursday, 12 June 2008 3:58 AM

Kiribati: A Neighbour's Dire Situation

Kiribati has been trying to make the world aware of the situation global warming has put the island nation in. The question is whether, we, its regional neighbours, are really aware of Kiribati's situation and also aware of the fact that we could all possibly be headed towards the same predicament.

An article by Krzys Wasilewski, published in News Blaze (newsblaze.com), covers the situation our island neighbour is in.
The article, "Who Wants to Adopt a Country?" speaks about the 100,000 or so people for whom Kiribati is home.
'Omitted by most maps, this island country usually goes unnoticed by cargo ships that pound through the waters of the South Pacific in great numbers. But for 100,000 people who live there, Kiribati is their whole world - the world that may soon disappear'.
'The painful truth is that by 2050, Kiribati might be swallowed by the Pacific Ocean'.

'President Anote Tong, who replaced Tito in 2003, blames global warming for his country's uncertain future. Touring the world, he says he is fed up with begging powerful countries for financial aid that wouldn't be needed at all if they tackled their gas emissions'.

'On Monday, Tong embarked on another journey, this time to find a new home for his people. Although surrounded by giants, such as China and Australia, so far only New Zealand has agreed to receive several thousands fellow islanders. "We will need to relocate our people at some point in time in the future, but so far New Zealand has been the only one able to come forward," said Tong, disappointed'.

'Most experts say that Kiribati will sooner or later go under water, global warming notwithstanding. They remind that history knows many such incidents with Atlantis being only the most mysterious and popular example. The mighty will not even notice when the whole world for 100,000 people disappears'.

There have been recent reports of President Tong's travels to create awareness about his country's predicament and he has even made his case before the United Nations.

As reported by ABC News (abcnews.go.com), 'After narrowly defeating his brother for the presidency in 2003, Tong went to the United Nations in 2004 and 2005, and stunned world leaders by claiming his country will be gone by mid-century -- and would become the first sovereign victim of man-made climate change'.

That was three to four years ago. Now President Tong is trying to find new homes for his people, our neighbours. How much do we, as regional neighbours, know about our 100,000 or so neighbours who stand to lose their homeland? Do we truly understand that they will soon have no physical place to call home? And more importantly, are we aware that we could be in the same position too?
Of the fifty-one or so Small Island Developing States listed under the UN, nineteen are countries in the region. All low-lying and susceptible to natural disasters and among the most vulnerable to rising sea-levels brought on by global warming.

This issue was raised at the recent climate change talks held in Bangkok early this year, with claims that Pacific Islanders could make up the new class of refugees, those homeless simply because their home simply no longer physically exists.

The simple fact is that President Tong and the people of Kiribati should not be alone in getting the message out there. We are all headed down the same road, Kiribati is just getting there a lot sooner.

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