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Friday, January 14, 2005

Maldives says nine tsunami-battered islands won't be resettled

Excerpt::  " Climate change and rising sea levels were to top the agenda at the five-day conference on this Indian Ocean island."


TerraDaily Home Page Maldives says nine tsunami-battered islands won't be resettled
PORT LOUIS (AFP) Jan 09, 2005
Nine islands in the Maldives archipelago, which were destroyed by last month's Indian Ocean tsunamis, will no longer be resettled, the country's UN enovy said here Sunday on the eve of an international conference on developing small island nations.

"We have evacuated 14 islands," the Maldives," Mohamed Latheef told AFP in the Mauritian capital. "Nine are totally uninhabitable."

The Maldives, a cluster of 1,192 low-lying islands scattered across the Indian Ocean, saw several of them destroyed by the giant waves spreading out from the December 26 quake zone off the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

"Houses are destroyed, vegetation damaged. They are uninhabitable," Latheef noted, stressing that the island structure was damaged.

"(Land) reclamation would be too expensive... So we are resettling them (the inhabitants) on other islands," he added, without specifying how many.

At least 82 people were killed by the devastating tidal waves, that claimed the lives of more than 156,000 people in total in 11 countries along Indian Ocean coastlines.

Latheef noted that a wall built with Japanese funds off the Maldivian capital Male following fierce tidal waves in 1987 did not prevent flooding in the town on December 26.

But he said the "impact was less, less important because of the wall."

"In the next decade, we are planning to move people from the most vulnerable islands to the most protected ones," the Maldivian diplomat said. "We are also planning to protect some of the islands."

"We expect financial commitment from participants and donors and more attention to the needs and vulnerability of these countries," he added.

Climate change and rising sea levels were to top the agenda at the five-day conference on this Indian Ocean island.

Looking beyond natural catastrophes to the broader challenge of global warming, the symposium aims to help small island states prepare for the future as the world's oceans steadily rise.

Around the world, thousands of islands, river deltas and low-lying coastal areas, already at constant risk of being swamped by violent storms and high tides, are set to face a growing battle against the encroaching seas.

Average sea levels have increased by 10 to 20 centimetres (four to eight inches) over the past century, and are expected to rise by a further nine to 88 centimetres (four inches to three feet) by the year 2100, as global warming causes glaciers and polar ice caps to melt.

As many as 200 million people could be forced to migrate by the end of the century, as their homelands are swallowed up by the waters, according to a 2001 report by a group of UN climate experts working on the basis of population growth estimates of the time.


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