7 Jun 2006

Preparations for repatriation of Tuvaluans on Nauru in final stages

7:33 pm on 7 June 2006

Arrangements to repatriate 300 Tuvaluans from Nauru are now in their final stages with a boat leaving Tuvalu next week.

The prime minister, Maatia Toafa, says a party has already left for Nauru to organise the preparations and the first boatload of about 170 people, some of whom have lived there many years, are getting ready to return home.

Mr Toafa says this is the second time that people have been repatriated but this group earlier refused to return because they were owed back pay.

"They are the ones that didn't want to come back until they are guaranteed that their back wages would be paid. The 50 percent of that has been paid by Taiwan and the other 50 percent of that will come forth by first week of next month."

Mr Toafa says the average wages amount to about 15,000 U.S. dollars so Tuvaluans returning home will have sufficient to get on with their lives.

The total cost of the repatriation will be 350,000 U.S. dollars, with the funds being given by the E.U. financial assistance programme.