Tuvalu illegal overstayers in New Zealand has been a long-standing issue and past governments have tried to find solutions to the issue but none had been successful. The current government of Hon. Enele Sosene Sopoaga is making another attempt to look into the issue and hopefully a solution can be found.
In his recent visit to New Zealand and in a press conference on Thursday, 22 February, he said that government is now working together with the new New Zealand Government in an effort to solve the issue. Hon Sopoaga said about 500 Tuvaluans are classed as illegal overstayers in New Zealand and they are living in hiding moving from place to place. Their children are not going to school and they don’t have bank accounts and thus do not go to the banks. They are really in desperate situations and they need immediate help.
In his discussion with the new Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Artern, Hon Sopoaga requested her if her government could be sympathetic with Tuvalu overstayers who are living in fear in case they are caught and get deported instantly. Some of them have lived in New Zealand long enough to be qualified for permanent residency status. Some of their children have married there and have also given birth to children. He Humbly requested Jacinda to kindly consider offering permanent residence for them.
Hon Sopoaga confirmed that his government and the government of New Zealand will work together on this issue. First of all, they agreed to have all these overstayers submit all the required immigration papers to the proper NZ authority and they will have to look at it and make a decision. So, Hon Sopoaga is appealing to Tuvaluan illegal overstayers in New Zealand to comply with this requirement. Hon. Enele said that his government is fully committed to having this issue discussed and solved as quickly as possible and he wishes that New Zealand grant permanent residency status for them.
The Prime Minister, Hon. Enele Sosene Sopoaga addressed the nation in a message broadcasted over Radio Tuvalu on Christmas Eve 2017. He convinced the nation that for the year 2018, his government is committed to promoting and developing the health standards of all the people of Tuvalu, improving the life standards of Tuvaluans, developing the family food security, and respond to the impacts of climate change, for example, the coastal protection project that includes the islands of Nanumea, Nanumaga and Funafuti is to be soon implemented.
The Prime Minister said that his government has committed in its 2018 budget an amount of $8 million towards the Tuvalu Trust Fund and $2million towards the Tuvalu’s Climate Change Survival Fund.
In other developments, the Prime Minister assured the nation that the government will also prioritize works on the repair and maintenance of classrooms as well as the education and training of Tuvalu citizens.
The Prime Minister also highlighted a few of his government’s achievements in 2017 referring to the development in renewable energy. He said that about 95-96% of homes in Tuvalu have now access to a 24-hour electricity supply. Last month, the new fishery’s office complex was inaugurated and an agreement was also signed between the Government of Kiribati and the Government of Tuvalu allowing Tuvalu’s air space to be used for a new air service to be operated by Air Kiribati to Tuvalu. The new airport terminal is also expected to be officially opened soon.
The Prime Minister also informed the nation about two important events to take place in Tuvalu this year, a leaders’ meeting for Polynesian countries will be hosted by Tuvalu and it will be held in Funafuti. The other meeting is the Forum of Pacific Leaders Meeting to be held in Funafuti in 2019. Government is now working on ensuring that there are available and enough accommodations for the participants to the two meetings.
The Prime Minister confirmed to the nation that Tuvalu is really progressing and advancing as reflected in the continuing increase of the national budget from $70m + in 2017 to about $80m + in 2018.