15 Nov 2010

A year on in Vanuatu, Gaua evacuees want to return to their homes

1:34 pm on 15 November 2010

About 400 people in the north of Vanuatu have asked to be allowed to return to the western side of Gaua island - a year after they were evacuated because of a volcanic eruption.

Speaking on behalf of the displaced people, Edgar Howard says after being forced to leave their food gardens and businesses, they have found it difficult to make a living.

He says eight people have died since the move and he says some believe their deaths were hastened because of worry about having to leave.

Last year, it was planned to relocate the Gaua people to Vanualava island on land owned by the Vanuatu Anglican Church.

The plan was that if the eruption lasted longer than a year, the government would find a permanent place somewhere in the country but it has remained silent about the problem.

The head of the Disaster Management Office, Job Esau, says the Gaua volcano remains active and a return to the island's western side is still risky.