21 Mar 2005

Kiribati official says Nauru life difficult for Kiribati group

6:31 am on 21 March 2005

A senior foreign affairs official in Kiribati says that country is keen to have a large group of its workers in Nauru return to live in Kiribati.

There are estimated to be about a thousand people from Kiribati and Tuvalu living in Nauru, waiting to receive millions in unpaid wages and benefits before they can go home.

The workers went to work in Nauru's phosphate industry but are now mostly doing whatever they can for a living.

The Kiribati Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Tessie Lambourne, says some returned in two ships about two years ago, but others believe they must not leave until they're paid.

Mrs Lambourne says life is not easy for the Kiribati nationals in Nauru.

"It's very difficult. They get their food but generally it's very difficult for them. That's what I know, that it's difficult. I don't know if they are starving, but I know that life in Nauru, not just for them but for everybody living in Nauru, it's very difficult at this time."