Fiji’s President Epeli Nailatikau has invited residents of Kiribati to relocate to his country if rising sea levels brought about by climate change permanently floods their coral atolls.
“If all else fails, you will not be refugees,” he said during an official visit to the low-lying country this week. “You will be able to migrate with dignity. Fiji will not turn its back on our neighbors in their hour of need.”
Absorbing Kiribati’s 100,000 inhabitants could prove a huge challenge for Fiji, where a third of the 900,000-strong population lives in poverty.
Kiribati’s president has floated the idea of moving his population to man-made islands, should their current efforts of building sea walls and planting mangroves fail to repel the rising seas.
Some predictions say that Kiribati’s 32 islands could be lost in 50 years.