Monday, April 28, 2008

More refugees from climate change

IPS: Climate change is likely to lead to an increase in conflicts and forced migrations of poor people in the south, a new report warns. Developing countries can reduce this impact by adopting preventative measures now, while international law and human rights principles need to be updated. Most so-called 'climate refugees' will be displaced both by gradual environmental degradation, slow-onset disasters such as drought, and sudden disasters such as floods or storms, while rising sea levels threaten the very existence of some low-lying island states.

These are the conclusions of a report released in Oslo last week by the NGO Norwegian Refugee Council, based on a review of published research. It warns that conflicts over resources may well increase as the resources get scarcer and as migrants encroach on others' territories. The report, Future Floods of Refugees, points out that land degradation and desertification seem to be a root cause of the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, albeit in combination with other factors.

Africa is likely to be the worst hit, closely followed by the so-called Small Island Developing States (SIDS), mega-deltas in Asia, and the Polar Regions. In countries with high populations such as India and China, many will be displaced when sudden environmental disasters strike. Although less people live in the Caribbean, it is also very vulnerable to sudden disasters such as cyclones, the report says. Central Asia and particularly the Sahel and Nile areas of Africa may be particularly hard hit by droughts….

Image from the website of the Norwegian Refugee Council

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