17 May 2003

Marshall Islanders angry about new Compact of Free Association

9:27 am on 17 May 2003

Survivors of the nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands are reported to be angry that their care and compensation is excluded in the newly signed Compact of Free Association.

A group, involving islanders from Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Utrik, says the new Compact between the United States and the Marshall Islands, makes no reference to the U.S.'s continuing obligation to them.

The first Compact, which expires at the end of September, provided 270 million U.S. dollars for health care, radiological studies and compensation for Marshall Islanders affected by the nuclear tests in the 1950s.

Representatives of the survivors group, called Erub, says they're worried that many outstanding problems remain but the new compact doesn't have any language that addresses the issues.

These include islands that are still too radio-active to live on, islanders requiring ongoing and long term medical care and unpaid compensation awards.

Rongelap councillor, Roko Langinbelik, says many people suffering from problems associated with nuclear fallout are worried what's going to happen to their medicines and treatment when funding ends in September.

U.S. officials have repeatedly said that the first Compact satisfied the American government's obligation to compensation.