19 Oct 2015

All Pacific countries urged to help climate refugees

2:00 pm on 19 October 2015

All countries in the Pacific are being urged to start discussions on how to help people forced to move from low lying atoll nations like Kiribati and Tuvalu.

Damaging waves flooded Kiribati's Betio in South Tarawa.

Damaging waves flooded Kiribati's Betio in South Tarawa. Photo: Kiribati Ministry of Health

A plan of action for dealing with the increasing number of displaced people worldwide has been endorsed by 110 countries as part of the Swiss Norwegian Nansen Initiative.

The Initiative's Walter Kaelin says the so-called Protection Agenda agreed last week in Geneva shows countries are ready to work together to tackle migration brought about by disaster and climate change.

"I think it's important it's not just New Zealand and Australia, it's also countries such as Fiji and others who even might be interested to receive people from countries like Tuvalu and Kiribati because of cultural ties, because they are interested to get a workforce or increase their populations."

Professor Kaelin says it's important to start discussions before humanitarian crises develop.

He says the Pacific Islands Forum would provide a good framework for such talks.

Flooding in a village of Kili Island, Marshall Islands, February 2015.

Flooding in a village of Kili Island, Marshall Islands, February 2015. Photo: Kili/Bikini/Ejit Local Government Marshall Islands