16 Feb 2016

Kiribati climate-induced migration to start in five years

12:32 pm on 16 February 2016

People will have to start leaving Kiribati within five years because rising seas are making life there unsustainable.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Tebikenikora to discuss local people’s concerns about the effects of climate change on their low-lying land. 05 September 2011

Children in the village of Tebikenikora, on Kiribati’s main Tarawa atoll. Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The country's outgoing president Anote Tong said the accelerating effects of climate change meant he had given up dealing with the day-to-day issues to concentrate on finding creative solutions for his low-lying country.

A seawall protecting a home from coastal erosion in Kiribati, climate change.

A seawall protecting a home from coastal erosion in Kiribati Photo: UNDP / Sheryl Ho

He told a climate change conference in Wellington those include building up the atolls, floating islands and buying land in Fiji.

Mr Tong said he had also tried to motivate the 100,000 strong population to prepare and adapt themselves for what he calls migration with dignity.

"People are getting quite scared now and we need immediate solutions. This is why I want to rush the solutions so there will be a sense of comfort for our people. They can sleep even when the tide is high."

Mr Tong said there had been some criticism of Kiribati's purchase of land in Fiji, but he said its main value has been the international publicity and giving his people a sense of security.

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