13 Dec 2005

Rabi Islanders hope finally getting Fiji citizenship might improve their lot

7:13 pm on 13 December 2005

Many Rabi Islanders in Fiji are living below the breadline and it's hoped that a decision to finally grant them Fiji citizenship will improve their lot.

The government is granting 566 residents of Rabi and Kioa Islands citizenship this week after what for some has been a 60-year wait.

The British resettled the people of Ocean Island and Tuvalu after World War 2.

The Banabans were resettled on Rabi because the British wanted to mine their phosphate-rich island.

The head of the Rabi Island Council of Leaders, Molly Amon, says many have been living in poverty since income from the mining ceased in 1979.

"They were left with only 10 million in compensation and it was being deposited into their trust fund and that's what they're living on. But with our population of around about 5000, that is quite insufficient."

Molly Amon says the citizenship certificates will make it easier for the islanders to travel and find permanent work.