31 Jul 2006

Last of the Tuvaluan workers stranded on Nauru for years to return home this week

5:48 am on 31 July 2006

The last of the several hundred Tuvaluan workers stranded on Nauru for years are expected to arrive home by this Wednesday.

The Tuvaluans, along with hundreds of I-Kiribati, had worked at the phosphate company on Nauru, but had demanded outstanding wages and assisted passages home before leaving.

Taiwan has met the wages bill, at a cost of three and a half million US dollars, while Australia, New Zealand, and the European Union paid the bulk of the cost to transport the workers, and their families, back to their home islands.

The Kiribati government says it will not finish moving its more than one thousand people back until September but the deputy secretary of the Tuvalu government, Solofa Uota says they expect all 378 Tuvaluans to be home this week.

"We are still waiting for some of them. The last trip of our vessel, that will be the third and last trip to evacuate all remaining Tuvaluans who are stranded in Nauru. It is expected that about Wednesday they will arrive back in Nauru."