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UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon arrives in Kiribati

United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon arrives in Kiribati

Tarawa, 5 September 2011 — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived for a two-day visit in Kiribati on Sunday, and attended bilateral meetings before a state dinner in the island’s capital, Tarawa, hosted by the President, His Excellency Anote Tong.

The Secretary-General’s first official stop was at the Eita District maneaba (Kiribati traditional meeting houses), where Mr. and Mrs. Ban, and his delegation were welcomed the traditional way.

“I am honoured for this opportunity to meet and seek the blessings of the maneaba elders,” Mr Ban told elders Sunday night. “As elders, you are protecting all generations. You are protecting the children, the women and the men. I thank you for your blessings.”

The last time a United Nations Secretary-General visited this part of the world was 65 years ago. District official Simau Siiva told the Secretary-General and his delegation that the people were deeply appreciated and moved by the high level visit.

“Our people are so happy and we hope this visit will bring about more understanding of what we are experiencing,” Mr Siiva said. The delegation then went to the State House where the Secretary-General and H.E. President Tong had a brief meeting before a state dinner.

Speaking before the dinner, the Secretary-General reiterated his commitment to advocating increased awareness and effective, realistic actions to address the issue of climate change.

“We have to protect our world so that our children and grandchildren never have to wonder how we could have been so irresponsible. Our only choice is to act now,” he said.

The second day of the Secretary-General’s visit in Kiribati will include mangrove-planting and a visit to Beki Ni Koora Village, a settlement which have experienced relocating their homes because of the rising sea level, a community which struggles daily for food and which is beginning to feel the lack of freshwater sources. The delegation is also today visiting the Marine Training Centre in Betio. The work of MTC is included in part of the Government’s long term strategy towards mitigation of the impact and climate change.

The delegation of the Secretary-General arrived on a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft from the Solomon Islands, another South Pacific nation whose low-lying areas have experienced the impact of climate change including the relocation of people.

ENDS

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