16 Jul 2009

Marshall Islands nuclear test victims health support programme is out of money

11:39 am on 16 July 2009

Dwindling funds of the Marshall Islands Nuclear Claims Tribunal has spelled the end of compensation for nuclear test victims.

The tribunal, which has been paying claims since 1991, has now halted all payments despite owing more than two billion US dollars in compensation.

Our correspondent, Giff Johnson, says the money, given by the United States government following a settlement agreement between 1986 and 2003, was inadequate from the beginning.

"The fact of the matter is when the US said we're going to give you a hundred and fifty million dollars, that number was just pulled out of a hat. Nobody had any clue how much was needed. And will the US respond? So far they haven't, even though the Marshall Islands has been asking for more support on the compensation issue."

Giff Johnson says not only is the tribunal out of money but funds for health programmes supporting nuclear test victims are also declining.