Monday, April 12, 2010

The Philippines has one million ‘climate refugees,’ and count is rising

Fernando del Mundo in the Philippine Daily Inquirer: … Climate change is one of the major campaign issues in the May 10 elections, but it has grabbed little attention in the current debates. Candidates with “green agendas” are falling far behind in popularity surveys in the run-up to the balloting.

Storms heavily laden with rain last year and the current dry spell sweeping the country accentuate the environmental threats ahead, hounding people like [farmer Ernesto] Castillo, who had been moving from place to place to farm and hunt for survival.

Three years ago, the short and dusky Aeta with streaks of gray in his kinky hair found a small plot to cultivate in the resort town of Botolan at the edge of the South China Sea. But a series of storms beginning in August inundated the area and forced him to flee again. Castillo’s hut was washed away, along with hundreds of other dwellings, as lahar-bearing floods breached a 6-kilometer dike and flooded wide areas of Botolan.

…Some 1 million victims of Storms “Ondoy” (international codename: Ketsana) and “Pepeng” (Parma) were still either in evacuation centers last month or were being assisted in their homes in Metro Manila and 19 provinces, mainly by the World Food Programme (WFP), six months after the storms struck. They were evidence of the government’s inability over the long haul to deal with the caprice of climate change that, experts say, is likely to bring more violent typhoons that whip the country annually from the Pacific.

…The Philippines is already the world's fourth most-disaster-prone country, according to the nongovernment Citizens’ Disaster Response Center. In 2006 alone, 3 million Filipinos, or about 3.5 percent of the population, were affected by disasters.…The United Nations describes the storm evacuees as “environmentally induced migrants.” Charity groups call them “environmental” or “climate refugees,” although the UN shies away from the label…

Landslide in Barangay San Juan Banyo which is within the Arayat National Park that buried alive 12 villagers, eight of them children, at the height of then tropical storm Ketsana on Saturday, September 26 2009. Shot by Susan Corpuz, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

No comments: