May 21, 2008

Papua New Guinea Islanders Moved Inland to Escape Sea Level Rise

Text of report by Papua New Guinea newspaper The National website on 21 May

[by Elizabeth Vuvu]

Elders in the Duke of York Islands in East New Britain have expressed concern over global warming which is causing most of their islands to disappear slowly. The islands have 21 wards and some, during the past five to 10 years, have been subjected to rise in sea level, forcing the people to be relocated inland.

At the Nakukur ward, about 60 families that used to live near the beach, had packed up and moved inland two to three years ago.

Nakukur elders Judas Kalasiel, 70, Topin Temeren, 62, and Malari Uding, 53, said it was a big worry for them as elders even though today's young generation was not realizing this. They said there had been no local authority or stakeholder who had come out to tell the islanders what they were planning to help them.

"Now we can see the reef from the beach and our fishing grounds have since stretched far," they said.

At the Kumaina ward, village leader Samuel Tobainga said about 60 families had moved inland.

Samuel Oris, 70, and Udia Tomatuai, 89, both from Urakukur, said 10 years ago the beach was different from what it is now as the sea was moving in on them, forcing people to move back to land areas where they used to do gardening.

At Kabatirai, people have been relocated at the Milamila Catholic parish.

At Urkuk, people cannot move inland and are buying land elsewhere.

People at all these wards are now planting trees at the beachside but none has taken initiatives to build seawalls.

Originally published by The National website, Port Moresby, in English 21 May 08.

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