Nauru_ the smallest island in the world that is in danger of disappearing

Nauru_ the smallest island in the world that is in danger of disappearing


Nauru, the smallest republic in the world that is in danger of disappearing

Geographic map of the island (note 1)

In Micronesia, in the middle of the Pacific, just below the equator, there is the smallest republic in the world: the island of Nauru (official name Republic of Nauru).

Nauru is located approximately 42km southeast of the equator (longitude 166 ° 55 'east from Greenwich) and the closest island is Ocean 305km away. It is 21.3 sq km large, with a coastline of 30 km and has just over 14,540 (2007 data) inhabitants (of which about 35% are under 15 years old). It does not have a capital but a more inhabited center which is the district of Yaren, where the government is based.

Geographic map (note 1)

Thanks to the work of man, its appearance has gradually transformed from that of a lush tropical island to a desolate lunar land: large and small craters scattered here and there, very little vegetation, no source of fresh water, impracticable agriculture, unthinkable tourism: an open pit phosphate mine that less than a century of exploitation led the island to destruction.The fertile areas are in fact reduced to the narrow coastal strip where there are coconut palms, pandanus trees, banana trees and some vegetable gardens . The local fauna is very scarce as, following environmental changes, birds such as the Black Noddy (Anous minutus - fam. Sternidae) have disappeared. As a consequence of the fact that the vast wooded areas have been destroyed to make room for the open pit mines of phosphates, the climate has also undergone dramatic changes from a typically tropical climate to an area with a climate characterized by long periods of drought.

But let's see how this happened.

All that is known about this island, before the arrival of the Westerners, is that it was colonized by people who came from Polynesia and Melanesia and lived mainly on fishing. In 1798 Captain John Fearn, a whale hunter, happened upon the island and called it Pleasant Island (= Pleasant Island).

Starting in the 1830s, other whale hunters and even traders began to arrive with the easily imaginable consequences as their lifestyle was very different from that of the natives. They made known about firearms, alcohol and above all diseases. All this led over the years to a series of internal struggles in the population that lasted ten years and led to a reduction of the inhabitants from 1400 to 900.

In the late 1800s, both Germany and Great Britain claimed ownership of the island. As a result of this dispute, an agreement was signed which provided for the island to be divided into two large spheres of influence: one German and one British. The new arrivals began to exploit the large deposits of guano present on the island which continued until the end of the nineteenth century the New Zealander Albert Ellis, discovered that the rocks of Nauru were rich in pure phosphates (his estimate was 41 million tons, very far from reality as they were almost double), formed by the contact between the bird's guano with the coral. A process that lasted thousands and thousands of years thanks to a very particular, almost unique condition.

Thus in the very first years of the twentieth (1906) mining began. The Naurans were initially paid half a penny per ton (!).

In the 1920s, mining began to move forward at the rate of two million tons per year: every year two million tons disappeared from an island measuring 21 square kilometers. The compensation for the naurans had risen to 3%, the ecological decompensation was starting to be serious.

In 1914 at the beginning of the First World War the Australians took possession of the island until 1920 when, at the end of the war, the League of Nations placed the island of Nauru under the British, Australian and New Zealand protectorate with the rights of exploitation of the phosphate mines.

Photo of the island of Nauru under attack by Liberator 7th Air Force bombers (note 2)

But it was not over yet for this remote island as it also had to experience the Second World War. In fact, from 1942 to 1945 Nauru was occupied by the Japanese who deported 1200 Naurans to work as workers in the Caroline Islands (it was for them an important military base for war operations). Of the 1200 Naurans, only about 700 returned to their island in 1946.

In 1947, after the end of the war, by decision of the United Nations, the island passed under the Australian mandate and remained so until its independence. In fact, starting from 1950 the inhabitants began to ask for the independence which they obtained in 1968 becoming an independent republic and became part of the Commonwealth in 1999.

In June 1970 the people of Nauru bought the assets of the British Phosphate Commissioners (the company made up of Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand that managed the extraction of phosphates on Christmas Island, Nauru and Ocean Island since 1920) becoming the Nauru Phosphate Corporation with mining rights.

Having obtained independence, the inhabitants of Nauru found themselves at a crossroads: to abandon the economy that was killing their own island or not? To switch or not to an economy based on something more sustainable, such as tourism, fishing or other things compatible with a Polynesian island?

It was decided to go on for another 40 years digging for phosphates, such were the estimates of availability, which turned out to be correct. Today (despite the ecological disaster forty years ago it was evident) that the mines are practically exhausted, the smallest republic in the world is a sieve without raw materials, without vegetation, without hope of attracting tourists, without a sea around worthy of a island in the middle of the Pacific.

Having acknowledged the situation, the government of Nauru in 1989 sues Australia at the international court of justice in The Hague for the damage caused to the territory by the exploitation of phosphate mines while the island was under its protectorate. The court of justice in 1993 ruled that Australia has not fulfilled its fiduciary obligations (before the declaration of independence) and the same agrees to pay a lump sum of 85.6 million US dollars and an annual amount of 2, $ 5 million for environmental remediation.

The Naurans have tried to transform themselves into a tax haven, but the proposed sanctions, combined with their weakness (they have to import practically everything, even drinking water and energy) have made them desist. Among other things, if we consider the rise in ocean waters (due to global warming), which is combined with an island where millions of tons of rocks have been extracted and transferred elsewhere and considering that the highest part the island today is about 67 m asl, there are serious concerns that the island may disappear.

From a situation where no taxes were paid and most services were free, the Naurans now import 97% of what they consume, are full of debt and do not have the strength to return their island to an ecologically acceptable condition. . Once among the richest nations in the world, it is now in dire financial straits: with phosphate mining ceased, the nation has not yet found a different way to generate enough income to support itself.

Nauru today is the most densely populated area in the Pacific with 10 people per family unit and with a density of about 680 people per square kilometer and the only habitable areas of this handful of land or in any case suitable for any sustainable use, are the coastal areas ( 150-300 m wide) which represent 1/5 of the island as the rest is an open pit mine.

Nauru, year 2002, seen from the satellite (note 2)
(Courtesy: U.S. Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program)

In recent years they have been providing hospitality to people seeking political asylum from Australia and in return the Australian government has given financial aid to the island. But this activity also ceased in February 2008 due to a change in Australian policy.

According to the WHO 40% of Nauru's population suffers from type two diabetes so kidney and heart disease are widespread with a life expectancy for women of 62 and men of 58, due to their very sedentary lifestyle.

The country, already heavily dependent on foreigners for its survival, especially from Australia and Taiwan (China), has an even more serious situation due to its isolation as only one plane operates and there is also no safe harbor for ships beyond of container ships for the transport of phosphates.

Nauru has expressed the need for help to the United Nations. In the national evaluation report of the United Nations (Development strategies for sustainable development) the actions that must be implemented for environmental and human sustainability are highlighted. It is highlighted that starting from 1990 there was a collapse of the country's economy due to the collapse of phosphate production with an increase in public debt (also due to bad investments) which brought the economy to the brink of collapse. It highlights how the primary objective is: "A future in which individuals, the community, businesses and the government contribute to a sustainable quality of life for all naurans". This reform plan concerns the country at 360 ° going not only from environmental remediation but also and above all to the strategies to be adopted to make the country autonomous from an economic, health, educational, agricultural, social point of view, in short, practically rebuilding a country to be zero and make it worthy of being called such.

What happens on this island is a warning and an example of how senselessness and profit can destroy a natural environment and how its destruction results in the destruction of all its life forms, including man. We are talking about 21 sq km but the substance does not change if we compare it to the 510 million sq km of the planet, the result could be the same (and without anyone to bring us drinking water!).

We insert this video, although not of excellent quality, which still makes us understand the ecological disaster of the island of Nauru.


It is really true what a great writer said: "Not even the gods can fight successfully against human stupidity (and greed)."

Gian Marco Calvini and Maria Giovanna Davoli

Online bibliographic sources

  • Republic of Nauru (en) from which the indicated photos were taken
  • The Voice (en)
  • Wikipedia (it)
  • U.S. Department of State Diplomacy in Action (en)
  • Hickman Air Force Base (en)
  • World Health Organization (regional Office for the Western Pacific) (en)


  • The maps are taken from The brand new De Agostini geographical atlas for the family, De Agostini Geographic Institute Novara, 1986 edition;
  • These images being taken from the Archives of the United States Department of Defense are in the public domain and are not subject to any copyright.

The island is in danger of disappearing submerged by the water"Political asylum for climate change"

The story of A.F., an inhabitant of the Kiribati islands who would like to stay in New Zealand as a "climate refugee"

The island is in danger of disappearing submerged by the water
"Political asylum for climate change"

The story of A.F., an inhabitant of the Kiribati islands who would like to stay in New Zealand as a "climate refugee"

Tarawa atoll in the Kiribati archipelago (Ap / Vogel)

If the sea level were to rise by one meter by the end of the century, as evidenced by recent estimates by the IPCC, the state of Kiribati, made up of 32 atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, could disappear. If this were to happen, the consequences would be disastrous for the approximately 100,000 inhabitants of Kiribati who, for some years now, forced to face constant impoverishment, have begun to emigrate to other nations in search of better prospects for life. New Zealand is one of the favorite destinations of Kiribati emigrants, and it is here that a 37-year-old born on one of the islands of this small Pacific nation, of which only the initials are known, AF, is fighting a personal and unprecedented legal battle. . Arrived in New Zealand six years ago with his wife to try to improve their living conditions and find a job, AF, he twice asked to be able to obtain refugee status in order to continue to remain with his family, he also has three children born in New Zealand, in New Zealand territory. Unfortunately for him, these were rejected both times because, according to the Auckland authorities, the man would not have the requisites to apply for refugee status as he did not flee his country as a result of persecution, violence, famine or wars.

"INADMISSIBLE REQUEST" - AF, in fact, justified the request by explaining that he was forced to flee his country due to climate change whose effects, primarily the rise in sea level, would put the life of his family at risk not allowing him to return to Kiribati and live a safe life. For New Zealand, as mentioned, the request is inadmissible, even, if not above all, because the conditions of the man, as explained by Bruce Barson, a member of the Auckland Immigration Court, to the Associated Press, would be the same. of all his compatriots. But despite the two failed attempts, the man did not give up and, together with his lawyer, Michael Kidd, a human rights expert, decided to appeal to the Supreme Court.

IT WOULD BE A PREVIOUS - Despite the chances of victory for A.F. in this legal tug-of-war seem reduced to a minimum, his case will inevitably create a precedent and could only be the first of a long list given the worsening of the living conditions of many populations due to the effects of climate change. Suffice it to recall that, according to experts, sea level rise could cause incalculable damage not only in small islands and sparsely inhabited atolls of the Pacific Ocean, but also in densely populated coastal cities such as Calcutta, India, and Dakha, in Bangladesh.

MASS TRANSFER TO THE FIJI - For the moment, possible solutions are being studied in Kiribati to avoid being caught unprepared in the face of sea level rise, President Anote Tong has proposed a mass transfer to the Fiji Islands and is working with Japan to a project for the construction of a real floating island. Meanwhile, the first asylum seeker due to climate change is ready to play his last cards: the appointment is for October 16 before the Supreme Court of Auckland.

Photos from a place that is in danger of disappearing

Kivalina is a city in Alaska, 120 kilometers above the Arctic Circle and inhabited by less than 400 people: it is spread over part of a thin island, separated from the mainland by a strip of sea. Kivalina is one of those places in the world where the consequences of climate change are visible, and which for this reason often ends up in the center of reporting. The latest was done by the photographer of Getty Images Joe Raedle, who photographed Kivalina and its inhabitants, whose habits have changed following the erosion of the coasts due to the rise in sea level, a consequence of the melting of the ice provoked. from rising temperatures. Erosion is also accelerated by the progressive reduction of the portion of the frozen sea that protected it.

A photo showing the tundra around Kivalina: 85 percent of the permafrost in the Alaskan soil is gradually melting, which releases carbon dioxide into the air, helping to increase the greenhouse effect. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

The fish and other animals living in the Kivalina area have in some cases been forced to change their migratory paths, depriving the inhabitants of the place of one of the main sources of livelihood. The inhabitants of the city say that in recent years they have caught fish never seen before in the waters of Kivalina, for example. Hunting for caribou has also become more difficult, which has significantly increased the cost of living. In addition to coastal erosion, the houses of Kivalina are also threatened by the melting of permafrost, the frozen ground typical of the tundra, a phenomenon that affects all of Alaska.

The American dream is in danger. Route 66 is in danger of disappearing

in the picture: Route 66. Photo by Dave Johnson

Who has never dreamed of taking a road trip in the United States, following the legendary Route 66. The highway that cuts horizontally across the States, starting from Chicago and ending in California, crossing large cities and spectacular nature in a single solution of travel. In recent days, however, many are afraid that this magical itinerary may remain a dream. The cause of all this is President Trump's cuts. In fact, the federal law that funds the restoration and recovery of neon signs, attractions, historic motels and other structures will expire in two years, but the continuous cuts by the new president of the United States do not guarantee its renewal. This is why the mobilization of citizens and deputies has already started to transform it into the National Historic Trail.

The mythical Route 66 risks remaining in a state of neglect and some sections are already abandoned today. So to save this great heritage, a bill in Congress aims to transform the road desired by entrepreneurs Cyrus Avery and John Woodruff into a National Historic Trail. Republican Darin LaHood of Illinois and 12 other deputies from that same state and from Kansas, Oklahoma and California signed it. The cities crossed by Route 66 are ready for anything, as they are small towns where there is no great development, and a large part of the economy revolves around this road. Over the years, the expiring program has financed 150 projects with two million dollars, generating another 3.3 in co-financing. They range from the neon signs of El Vado Motel in Albuquerque and the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico to the gas station in Baxter Springs, Kansas, the Historic Navajo Country Courthouse in Holbrook, Arizona, and other fascinating signals, this time at Donut Drive-In in St. Louis, Missouri.

The northernmost city in the world could disappear forever

There are places in the world of incredible beauty where nature, wild and authentic, is the absolute protagonist. The man here has chosen to live with all this, trying to alter the surrounding landscape as little as possible. But the desperate cry for help of the planet that is slowly running out has also arrived Longyearbyen, the northernmost city in the world.

Located on the Svalbard islands, in the northern hemisphere of our planet, the city is experiencing the greatest drama of recent times: a irreversible transformation caused by massive climate change.

The Svalbard Islands - Source iStock

These islands are characterized by the ice that covers 60% their surface, but the heat that is falling on the planet is changing everything. The frost, which has always characterized the territory, seems destined to remain only in the name: the Svalbard islands in fact in ancient Norwegian are translated into cold coasts.

Longyearbyen is themost populous urban settlement of the islands and it is also the only one where people can really live, but something dramatic is happening in the city. Houses and public buildings were built on pylons inserted into the ice perennial, but the consequences of climate change are upon us: cracks in the foundations, melting of the permafrost and leakage of gas from the ground.

And while the territory is transformed under our eyes, the costs are Flora and fauna. The endemic species are no longer able to survive in their natural habitat and where possible, they emigrate. On the Svalbard Islands, the animal most at risk remains the polar bear, the harrowing images of this itinerant predator that without strength goes in search of food are now on the agenda.

Polar bear on Svalbard - Source iStock

And Longyearbyen? The city, characterized by colorful houses and travelers who come here to admire the Northern Lights and spot the King of the Arctic, is in serious danger. The temperatures recorded, above the average, have changed everything and for the first time in history violent avalanches they fell on the city. In 2018, the Norwegian government installed avalanche barriers to protect citizens, but all this may not be enough for the survival of the city.

And if it is true that the Arctic is the earth's thermometer, it is easy to understand that our earth is no longer able to tolerate environmental pollution and global warming. What is happening in Longyearbyen is proof of this.

Books from: Tuvalu the paradise we risk losing

Dear iCrewer, today I want to have some fun, because the state that has touched me is unlikely ...

So we start from ... the end, and we do it with a question:

Where The Hell Is Tuvalu? (Where the hell is Tuvalu?)

of Philip Ells

How does a young city lawyer become the popular lawyer of the fourth smallest country in the world, 18,000 kilometers from home? We've all thought about getting off the treadmill, turning our heads and doing something useful. Philip Ells dreamed of turquoise seas, sandy beaches and palm trees, and found them on the small Pacific island of Tuvalu. But neither his volunteer service overseas briefing package nor his legal training could prepare him for what happened there. He has learned to handle rape, murder, incest, the unforgivable crime of pig theft and to look a shark in the eye. But he never dared to ask the Tuvaluan octogenarian leader why he sat immobilized by a massive rock that rests permanently on his groin. This is the story of a UK lawyer who collides with a Pacific Island culture. The relapse is moving, dramatic, disconcerting and often funny. "

This is one of the many questions this young man asks himself when he agrees to go and be a lawyer in theISLAND THAT NOT THERE IS', indeed better to say WHAT'S UP'. Oh yes dear iCrewer, you read that right, the famous island where Peter Pan spent his adventurous childhood really exists!


That red dot you see is the paradise we risk losing. It is one of the smallest nations in the world and consists of 9 atolls and islands spread over an area of ​​700 kilometers, the closest territories are the Gilbert Islands (Kiribati) to the northwest and Wallis and Futuna (France) to the southeast. The territory of Tuvalu it includes 6 atolls and 3 other single coral islands of modest surface area Vaitapu of 5.5 Km² it is the largest atoll in the country, in second place Nanumea which is 4 Km², the maximum height reached is just 4.6 meters above sea level, on the island of Niulakita. Divided, at the administrative level, into 9 districts, one of which, Funafuti, is referred to as the country's official capital, with government offices located in the village of Vaiaku (650 inhabitants).

There are no urban centers in the country but only villages with a maximum of one thousand inhabitants, like Senala is Fakaifou, both in the atoll of Funafuti which welcomes over half of the population.

The inhabitants are almost entirely of origin Polynesian (96%), with a small minority of micronesians (4%) on 98% of the population is of faith Protestant.

This archipelago is a state ofOceania - former islands Ellice - in'Pacific Ocean south of Fiji. Inhabited since the beginning of the first millennium BC, the archipelago was reached by European explorers in 1568 with the arrival of the Spanish Alvaro de Mendana y Neyra. From that date, only slave traders and whale hunters landed there occasionally. At the end of the 19th century Tuvalu became part of the British protectorate of the Gilbert Islands, officially acquiring the denomination of “Ellice islands". The protectorate became a colony in 1915. In 1974, ethnic differences within the colony prompted the Ellice Polynesians to vote for the separation from the Micronesians of the Gilberts, which would later become Kiribati. The following year, the Ellice Islands became a British colony in its own right, taking the name of Tuvalu, acquiring independence in 1978.

And these are the geographic news but, you may be wondering, why theNeverland? Because this island risked "disappearing" due to rising sea levels due to climate change. The world's leading experts had predicted that the global warming it would affect his disappearance. Contrary to expectations, however, without denying the climate-related emergency, Tuvalu instead of starting to fade it is growing, expanding its territory. The danger is not averted because it is a nation that is the second lowest in the world, and the intrusion of salt water in those few habitable areas, which forces the inhabitants to become migrants, is increasingly problematic.

Finding books by Tuvalu native writers is a difficult task, there is a strong oral tradition and the stories are handed down like this, and even less at the narrative level and are not translated. All the fault of climate change which also affects this a lot, the well-stocked and well-preserved Library is also at the expense.

Many names and many faces: that of Noataga, fifty-three years old, fisherman in this corner of the world or Rotani, twenty-one, who dreams of moving into New Zealand, or Namuea, seventy-five years old, who is worried about her grandchildren and fears that traditional culture will be swallowed up by the ocean ... along with Tuvalu and like them all the other people who inhabit this fragile paradise.

The water of the ocean that crashes angry on the coasts and the cyclones that periodically hit these islands so difficult to locate on the geographical maps cause hundreds of displaced people and you do not get used to the idea of ​​not knowing what will become of your home and your piece of land. And emigrate where? Since the situation is identical to the other islands surrounding Tuvalu.

True, my dear iCrewer, I probably won't have stuck to the main theme behind this column, but I thought it will be a shame when our children and grandchildren look back and realize we could stop this and we didn't. Who knows if Tuvalu's children and grandchildren will be able to look back from their island.

What I am giving you is important news I was hoping to "pass it on" to you through a book or a story written by those who live in those places on a daily basis, unfortunately I have found nothing but fragmentary news, but I leave you a strong message: let's save our planet.

Nauru's environmental catastrophe is a warning to everyone

Imagine an island in the Pacific so beautiful and lush that it was called "Pleasant Island" by the first Europeans who landed there. Imagine an indigenous population who lived for millennia following the placid rhythms of existence in contact with nature. Imagine an Australian officer who, once he has had a rock sample from the island analyzed, hears the reply that it contains an enormous level of a very precious substance: calcium phosphate.

We are in 1899 and such discoveries, especially in the colonies, are often followed by violence against the natives and savage hoarding of resources. The first hypothesis does not occur but, on the contrary, many years later Nauru will anticipate what resource extraction countries such as the Arab Emirates live today in terms of wealth obtained from the subsoil. However, environmental devastation will be inevitable and will present a huge bill to the population it once enriched.

At the time of its discovery, the phosphate ore was of enormous value. Its synthesis process has not yet been perfected and it is very important for the then pioneering chemical industry, being a very important element in the production of phosphoric acid and in fertilizers for agriculture. Sir Alber Fuller Ellis, this is the name of the Australian officer, founded the Pacific Phosphate Company and began mining the mineral in 1906 on behalf of German companies, at least until during the Great War the control of the island passed to the Australian authorities. who continue the business.

Everything changes in 1968: Nauru becomes an independent republic and redeems mining rights throughout the island to start mass national production, earning huge profits. In the 70s and 80s the island will always be counted among the countries with the highest per capita GDP (the highest in the world in 1985) and one of the best welfare systems ever implemented, but the consequences of the insane model of exploitation they will put an end to this era of enormous prosperity.

Nauru is an island state in the archipelago of Micronesia, just 21 sq km (just under the Giglio Island) and with a population of about 10,000 inhabitants, almost all descendants of the aborigines present in the archipelago for millennia. Before the mining industry, the island had supported itself with fishing, hunting for sea birds and the cultivation of fruit and vegetables in the hinterland.

Del territorio dell’isola oggi rimane una piccola zona verde lungo la costa dove si trovano una laguna e la maggior parte delle case, mentre l’80% del territorio è inabitabile in quanto ormai costituito da una landa desolata. Estrarre il fosfato avviene infatti attraverso il lavoro in miniere a cielo aperto e, come ulteriore effetto collaterale, le operazioni di carico del minerale sulle navi hanno inquinato il mare intorno l’isola.

Tra mito e cronaca si confondono i dettagli dello sfarzo in cui vivevano gli isolani negli anni del loro boom economico, compresi reportage di come fosse usanza regalare cuscini imbottiti di banconote ai neonati o che uno dei poliziotti dell’isola usasse una Lamborghini gialla come auto d’ordinanza.

L’improvviso benessere ha minato profondamente la salute degli abitanti: dopo essere vissuti per secoli alimentandosi con pesce e frutta il loro fisico non era preparato alla dieta a base cibi confezionati o surgelati che in pochissimo tempo divenne il nuovo stile di vita della popolazione. Oggi l 95% dei nauruensi è in sovrappeso, tre quarti dei quali sono obesi, soprattutto tra gli uomini. Il 40% della popolazione soffre inoltre di diabete di tipo 2 e anche le altre malattie legate alla cattiva alimentazione hanno altissima incidenza.

Quando negli anni ’90 l’industria mineraria di Nauru collassò l’isola si trovò senza terra coltivabile, ormai ridotta ad un labirinto di buche e fossati, e con un disperato bisogno di valuta straniera. Fu allora che lo stato divenne un paradiso fiscale, tristemente noto per essere diventato in brevissimo tempo la sede di almeno un migliaio di banche fantasma, in cui, tra gli altri clienti, la sola criminalità organizzata russa riciclò circa 70 miliardi di dollari.

Su pressione internazionale l’isola dovette rinunciare alle sue legislazioni permissive nel 2000 e questo decretò la doppia bancarotta dello stato: al disastro ambientale si aggiunse la catastrofe finanziaria alimentata dagli 800 milioni di dollari di debito publico creatisi negli anni e dal fallimento della Banca Centrale di Nauru. Come se non bastasse l’isola è oggi uno dei luoghi più gravemente minacciati dal surriscaldamento globale, con il livello del mare circostante in crescita costante di 5 millimetri l’anno dal 1993 e la sua intera superficie minacciata dal fenomeno.

Dopo essere state una terra da saccheggiare e poi una terra in cui nascondere i propri affari loschi, oggi Nauru è la terra in cui il governo australiano esilia le persone da esso indesiderate: gli immigrati clandestini. Sull’isola le autorità australiane hanno infatti costruito nel 2001 uno dei centri di accoglienza in cui vengono detenuti gli immigrati in attesa di ricevere o meno asilo nel paese, parte della loro dura politica in fatto di migrazioni, che allontana i clandestini dallo stesso territorio nazionale.

Nauru riceve 15 milioni di dollari l’anno in aiuti di sviluppo in cambio della gestione del centro ma questa mansione è sottoposta a gravi accuse. La grande struttura di tende e prefabbricati, si è rivelato un luogo dalle condizioni igieniche critiche, dove gli abusi fisici e psicologici sono quotidiani, tanto che da essere definito da Amnesty International una “catastrofe umanitaria” e aver attirato dure critiche allo stesso governo australiano.

L’incredibile sequela di scelte sbagliate dei nauruensi può essere attribuita al’avidità o alla mancanza di altre opzioni, ma in realtà non hanno nulla di inconsueto: tutto il mondo sta consumando territorio e risorse non rinnovabili a ritmi insostenibili, intrappolandosi come gli abitanti dell’isola tra la devastazione ambientale e il clima sempre più ostile (conseguenza di questo modello industriale). Nauru ha seguito lo stesso trend seguito tutto il mondo, lo ha solo fatto più rapidamente e in maniera più eclatante.

Forse non saremo costretti a vivere su una sottile fascia di terra tra una landa desolata ed un oceano in via di innalzamento, ma se non rivedremo le nostre politiche estrattive frenetiche e assolutamente prive di un piano per limitarne i danni a lungo termine potremmo condividere l’amaro destino di quella che una volta era chiamata Pleasant Island. I primi a farne le spese saranno tutti quei luoghi che come Nauru sono ritenuti “sacrificabili”, una nozione che sebbene sia nata nel contesto del colonialismo è sopravvissuta alla storia e non sembra intenzionata a sparire.


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Video: The History of Nauru