Climate change refugees have become a national security concern for the Fiji Navy.
In a presentation to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, Fiji Navy’s Lieutenant Commander Timoci Natuva said refugees was a security concern, reports Fiji Times.
Committee chairman Netani Rika said talks on measures that need to be in place for climate change refugees must start now.
“We’ve witnessed refugees’ movement from Syria to Europe and the time will come when we here in the Pacific will experience climate change refugees and it’s not far away,” he said.
“I’m thinking now, I believe this is the time that we set lengths.”
Rika also asked the Fiji Navy as to whether there was a forum that focused on the issue of climate change refugees.
“This is reality and when their islands submerge they will have to go somewhere.”
Lieutenant Commander Timoci Natuva while responding to the question said for the first time this year, the South West Pacific Heads of Maritime Forces meeting was conducted and it included all maritime heads from the southwest Pacific.
Commander Natuva said the issue of climate change refugees was also part of the discussions.
“They had mentioned that some of the islands will submerge and that in itself can be a security concern.
“Because we will have islands that will lose their territorial waters because they don’t have even their baseline to draw their territorial waters and EEZ form will be redefined,that will be an issue.”
He said it was also decided that meetings would be held annually and issues as such would be highlighted continually.