Vanuatu chief opposed to hosting climate change refugees
A prominent chief in Vanuatu has spoken out about the prime minister's plans to house climate change refugees in Vanuatu.
The former chairman of the Efate Council of Chiefs in Vanuatu, Chief Kalkot Mormor, says there is no room on Efate to house climate change refugees.
Chief Moromor was reacting to a recent announcement by the prime minister, Moana Carcasses Kalosil, that Vanuatu should be a haven for environmental immigrants displaced by climate change.
But Chief Mormor told our Port Vila correspondent, Hilaire Bule, that Efate, which has already lost a lot of land to developers, has no space to house refugees, while he doubts the rest of Vanuatu will take them either.
CHIEF MORMOR: When we look at different titles, different places on this island, it is true that most land has been gone to the investors, developers. We have limited land. We're talking about Pango in the southern part of Efate, developers are around already. We talk about Mele and Erakor, all the land has been developed and we are growing. We have more children and they will have children and then we need land for them. We have a lot of developers and some of our villages are in the middle of development now, so not enough room left.
HILAIRE BULE: There is no longer space for climate refugees here on Efate?
CM: Well, Efate, yes. Efate alone. I don't believe there is enough land here for refugees, unless they do it some other way. But the land's been created by the creator. There's no extension. The way that it is created and divided, like a custom boundary area belonging to one village or another, it's been done and this is it.
HB: Do you think it's possible to find somewhere in some of the islands of Vanuatu that can accept the climate refugees?
CM: Well, if the prime minister is talking, and while he's running the country, he's government now, he must talk about something that is true. If there is land available then he'll go and talk about it, but I don't believe, personally, that there is a land somewhere that would accept the refugees. He'll have to work out himself to see if there are lands available.
HB: But Vanuatu has also faced the impact of climate change. For example, Vanuatu is the first country in the Pacific region to relocate one of the villages on the island of Tegua in the northern part of Vanuatu. So do you think Vanuatu are still the first to accept refugees from other countries?
CM: I think Vanuatu will have to work with Vanuatu people first, like Tegua and some other places in Vanuatu, maybe if they need to move them to other islands or to relocate on their own islands. If that's done first, maybe we think about other countries, but it's too early at this stage.
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