Three of the major groups of islands in the Pacific Ocean. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

By Henry Oritimae and Sonal Shivangani
15 December 2016

SUVA, Fiji (IDN) – With sea levels rising rapidly across the South Pacific and the resulting movement of people within and across countries, the region is facing a new problem of a lack of proper migration policies to address the issue, according to experts.

Inhabitants of artificial islands in the Soloman Islands are migrating to settle in the bigger islands because of sea-level rise and coastal inundation.

University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Director of the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture, and Pacific Studies Dr David Gegeo said another reason for the sinking artificial islands was that its coral foundation was crashing as a result of overpopulation.

“The artificial islands are built on corals, and when people heavily built on it because of the rise in population, the corals died over the centuries, forcing the islands to sink underwater,” he said. “So this may be another scenario causing people to migrate to the mainland.”

Early migration to the artificial islands was due to security reasons. Sickness was another reason. Those days there was no cure for sicknesses like malaria, so people chose to settle in the (safety of) artificial islands, said Dr Gegeo.

USP student Aloysius Walekwate, who was raised on one of the artificial islands, said changes to these islands had become obvious. “One thing noticeable nowadays are the giant tides – high-tides that are abnormal,” he said. “When they come in, they flooded the islands, but luckily the houses are built high. So people are building higher sea-walls to withstand waves coming in.” [more]

South Pacific: ‘Sea-Level Rise’ Migrants Posing a Problem



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