Business, Finance & Economics

Rising sea levels forcing nation of Kiribati to relocate


Kiribati fishermen Uein Buranibwe (L), 53, and Temaei Tontaake, 26, who survived a 33-day drift on the ocean sit together after they arrived in Majuro on December 11, 2011. The two Kiribati fishermen recounted their struggle for survival while drifting for 33 days in the Pacific before being washed ashore on a remote atoll and solving a 50-year family mystery.



The entire nation of Kiribati is threatened by rising sea levels caused by global warming. Kiribati president Anote Tong is now in talks to buy 5,000 acres of land from Fiji as one possible solution, the Daily Telegraph reported.

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Kiribati, a low-lying Pacific island nation, is 1,300 miles away from Fiji, BBC News reported. The total land area in Kiribati is 811 square kilometers, with average elevation being less than two meters above sea level, the Telegraph reported

Some of the country's villagers have seawater lapping at their feet, forcing them to leave their homes. The salty ocean water has also damaged crops and fresh water supplies, the Sydney Morning Herald said. Most of the country's displaced people are now staying in a government center in Tarawa, a chain of islets that curve around a lagoon in Kiribati.

"This is the last resort, there's no way out of this one," Tong told the Telegraph. And Tong told the television channel Fiji One that his ideal plan would be to have Kiribati citizens move to Fiji gradually.  "They need to find employment, not as refugees but as immigrant people with skills to offer," he said.

Fiji is just one of a number of countries where the Kiribati people may relocate to, the BBC said. About 500 of Kiribati's 100,000 residents would move to the Fiji island of Vanua Levu under the proposed plan. There, they would develop farms to feed Kiribati residents back home. "I've been working very hard on this for Kiribati for a year," a real estate agent from Fiji told the BBC. 

Other ideas that Tong has previously proposed include building man-made islands similar to floating oil rigs.