The People of Kiribati Have Been Offered a Home in Fiji if Rising Seas Swamp Their Islands

Time and options are running out for the low-lying island nation

  • Share
  • Read Later
David Gray / Reuters

Kaibakia Pinata wades into the water as his relative Piri Sela watches from Bikeman Islet, located off South Tarawa in the central Pacific island nation of Kiribati May 25, 2013.

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.