Australia and Tuvalu sign historic agreement to welcome climate refugees

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    Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (left) and Tuvaluan Prime Minister Kausea Natano (right) sign an agreement between their countries in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, on November 9, 2023.

Tuvalu, a small island nation in the South Pacific, is at risk of disappearing beneath the waves by the end of 2021.cent century could not refuse Canberra’s offered hand. In November 2023, Australia offered climate protection to all its citizens in exchange for a say in security agreements it was considering signing with other countries. This historic treaty sparked intense debate in the archipelago, which is concerned about its sovereignty. On Thursday, May 9, the two countries signed an “explanatory memorandum” that will remove certain gray areas and allow the treaty to be implemented as early as 2024.

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The main issue is Article 4, which provides that Canberra has a say in “any partnerships, agreements or undertakings” Tuvalu wishes to enter into with other states or entities on security and defense matters. This clause has been heavily criticized by Tuvaluans who associate it with a veto.

To end the debate, the memorandum specifies that the clause only applies in “limited circumstances” and that “Tuvalu does not require Australia’s permission before commencing discussions with other partners.” are doing. To allay any remaining doubts, it added that either party “may also suspend its obligations or terminate the treaty by mutual agreement or unilaterally.”

In general terms, this Memorandum details and confirms the main provisions of the Convention. The report notes that the island continent would assist Polynesian islands in the event of a military invasion, natural disaster or pandemic. But best of all, Australia plans to grant permanent residency to 280 Tuvaluans “randomly selected” from applicants each year, which will eventually welcome the archipelago’s 11,200 residents. You should be able to do it.

“Record level”

Richard Gokrun, director of the Tuvalu Climate Action Network organization, was contacted by phone. Le Mondehas no intention of packing up and wants to fight to secure a future for his people, even as he witnesses the damage caused daily by climate change in his country of nine low-lying coral atolls. “One of the most alarming effects of rising sea levels is the destabilization of water and food security,” said the young man, who is lucky enough to live in Funafuti, the highest region on the main island at 3 meters above sea level. said. . In February, his family survived when most of his friends saw his home flooded by an unprecedented storm surge.

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