17 Mar 2005

Nauru puts a multi-million pricetag on repatriation problem

5:00 pm on 17 March 2005

Nauru says repatriating foreign nationals who've been working on Nauru for decades but now want to go home will cost more than two point three million US dollars.

It's estimated there are about one thousand workers on Nauru from Tuvalu and Kiribati who want to receive payment for salary arrears and then to return to their countries.

Officials from Tuvalu and Kiribati, in Tuvalu for a Pacific Plan meeting, are expected to work towards finding a solution to this issue over the next several days.

The Nauru Finance Minister, David Adeang, says meeting unpaid wages and other benefits for the former phosphate-industry workers is at the crux of the problem.

"I think the preliminary estimates we have now are that the size of the problem is about three million Australian dollars. That's I think the larger part of the equation of this problem, and then there's also the problem of funding the repatriation, the transportation and other costs of returning the people of Kiribati and Tuvalu who are stranded here in Nauru back to Kiribati and Tuvalu. The major task at hand now is finding donor support for that."

Mr Adeang says donor support will be needed and he understands at least one donor has indicated they can help.