By LUKE VARGAS
UNITED NATIONS (TRNS) – Rising ocean levels have created an urgent security situation in the Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands.
Best known as a stepping stone of the U.S. during the Pacific campaigns of World War II, the country home to more than 50,000 inhabitants now faces inundation at the hands of a more elusive foe: climate change.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Tony deBrum, a special representative of the country’s president, pressed the Security Council to take up the cause of nations like the Marshall Islands given the way climate change has evolved into a matter of international peace and security.
Mr. deBrum described how erosion caused by ocean water is now uncovering dangerous vestiges of the country’s past. Unexploded ordnances have been surfacing across the southern reaches of the nation in recent years, effectively creating minefields in areas long considered safe.
So too, fortnightly tidal patterns have resulted in consistant phases of flooding. The country’s roads are frequently covered in water, while crop damage and contamination of drinking water supplies have become a regular concern.
The United States pledged last year to assist island nations with the removal of unexploded munitions, but that matter is among the country’s least thorny struggles.
By contrast, handling what many see as the necessary repatriation of the islands soon-to-be-displaced inhabitants is a considerably more difficult issue. The compelling personal narratives of those affected in low-lying Pacific Islands have stirred some attention at climate conferences through the years, but the Marshall Islands and others have repeatedly had the forum for their grievances moved out of the spotlight, including at the most recent meeting of the U.N.’s “Arria Formula” Security Council group last week.