Displaced Bikini Islanders Seek Another New Start in US

Having survived atomic testing, they're now threatened by climate change
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2015 5:40 PM CDT
Displaced Bikini Islanders Seek Another New Start in US
Kili Island, where the relocated former residents of Bikini Atoll are being threatened by climate change.   (NASA)

Their first home was destroyed by nuclear testing. Their new home is being threatened by climate change. Now the former residents of Bikini Atoll want to use their million-dollar government trust fund to resettle in the US, USA Today reports. More than 150 residents of Bikini Atoll were moved 500 miles away to Kili and Ejit in the Marshall Islands in 1948 so the US could conduct nearly two-dozen atomic tests. They tried to move back in 1969 but had to be relocated again because of radiation. According to the BBC, the US set up a resettlement trust fund to help the displaced Bikini islanders rebuild their lives. However, that fund offers little protection from the life-threatening rising seas brought on by climate change.

The BBC reports there was widespread flooding on Kili in 2011 and 2015, and encroaching salt water is killing crops and ruining fresh water supplies. Both Kili and Ejit were covered by waves at least five times in the past four years, according to USA Today. The islanders, who are already allowed to live and work in the US, passed a resolution in August asking the US government to let them take their resettlement trust fund—which has a balance of around $69 million—with them to the US, the BBC reports. The Department of Interior is supporting the islanders and taking their proposal to congress. "This is an appropriate course of action for the United States to take regarding the welfare and livelihood of the Bikinian people, given the deteriorating conditions on Kili and Ejit," the assistant secretary of the Interior says in a statement. (More Marshall Islands stories.)

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