7 Jun 2006

Preparations for the repatriation of Tuvaluans on Nauru in final stages

2:15 pm on 7 June 2006

A party has left Tuvalu for Nauru to prepare a large group of Tuvaluans living there to return home.

The prime minister, Maatia Toafa, says a boat from Tuvalu is expected to leave by around the 13th of this month to pick up around 170 people and it will take ten days for the round trip.

He says there are about 300 Tuvaluans living on Nauru so there will be two trips to get everyone back.

Mr Toafa says the total cost of the repatriation is about 350,000 U.S. dollars with the money coming from the E.U. financial assistance programme.

He says the Tuvaluans on Nauru have also received 50 percent of their backpay from Taiwan, with the money now in their bank accounts on Tuvalu, and the rest will be paid early next month.

The prime minister says it will be up to the Tuvaluans to make the most of their return home.

"We're not going to provide them with all the jobs and there's one thing they have in mind, they know that coming back - it's not for Tuvalu government or any other organisation to provide them with job opportunities."

Mr Toafa says the people returning will be welcomed back into extended families.