1 Mar 2006

Finding the right ship to repatriate workers from Nauru will take weeks - IOM official

7:52 pm on 1 March 2006

The International Organisaton of Migration says it will be weeks before arrangements are in place to transport hundreds of Tuvaluans and I-Kiribati workers from Nauru.

The former employees of the Nauru Phosphate Company and their families are being repatriated with outstanding wages met by Taiwan.

But the process has been held up while the IOM sources the appropriate shipping to move the people and their possessions to their home countries.

The IOM's Denis Nihill says they are conscious of the need to complete the repatriation quickly but also have to ensure safety considerations are met.

Mr Nihill has this week been meeting delegates from the countries involved in Fiji.

He says the IOM is looking at Australian vessels while Tuvalu and Kiribati are keen for them to use their ships.

"We indicated we are open to that option. We said we needed more information on the specifications so we can draw up a plan on the basis of what those vessels are. We are also investigating air travel options. If there are sufficient people who want to take that option, to the capitals, with reduced personal effects allowances."