Sunday, September 11, 2011

Republic of Nauru - south-central Pacific.  In the line up at Sydney International Airport sat the 727 looking rather small compared to the giant airliners. Was this the only way of getting to distant Nauru over the ocean to a dot in the Pacific?
The airline had a reputation for several reasons.  It was known as a low cost means of getting around the central-western Pacific but also had a series of safety and financial woes.
On landing at Nauru everyone disembarked so that the freight that was carried on the rear seats could be unloaded.  The traffic on a road across the landing strip was, naturally, stopped during landing etc.
A stopover revealed a small town with water shortage, some pleasant facilities and a landscape, the landscape? by and large, it was rocky, rough and cratered with stunted vegetation where it had been done over by mining for guano. Is anything made or grown there? Very little.
The Republic of Nauru is the smallest island country, 21 sq kilometers and is one of the phosphate rock islands and described in early days as Pleasant Island. It was occupied by enemy in WW2.
Returning to the flight, which had been to Fiji and back, the next day it continued to Federated States of Micronesia and to Guam.
In the last decade, that leg of the journey ceased when Micronesia  (USA)  imposed restrictions due to safety concerns.  At other times Australian regulators have acted and suspended services and company assts have been repossessed when the Nauru government defaulted.  In 2005 the only aircraft was seized by creditors so the island had been without transport for months. Old stories are told of sudden cancellation of a flight while government officials took over the aircraft for certain flights they had in mind.

The prospect of development of Nauru by Australia as a detention island for refugees may have been very welcome news on the economic front.
Australia really needs to stop handing over its responsibilites to neighbouring states and work in co-operation with them for a suitable, humanitarian approach to refugees.  

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