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climate change and refugees


EVERY YEAR, OVER 22 MILLION PEOPLE DISPLACED DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE


Seven years ago at a UNHCR conference


on then UN High climate Commissioner


change, for


Refugees António Guterres predicted that climate change would become the biggest driver of population displacements within


the not too


distant future. It’s a prediction that’s difficult to argue.


Climate


making weather


change is happening—


and at an accelerated rate beyond most


scientific predictions, previously events


rare the norm


extreme rather


than the exception. This has huge repercussions for millions of people around the globe. Evidence shows that when it comes to sudden-onset, weather-related


hazards alone, a


global average of at least 22.5 million people have been displaced each year


this doesn’t slower-onset


from 2008 through 2014. And take into account


the climatic events, such


as rising sea levels, which also force people to move from their homes.


At the same migrants conference, Guterres


climate change pointed


out


that the distinction between refugees and


was becoming


blurred, leading to a “protection gap” for people forced to leave an uninhabitable home, but not able to meet the legal definition of a refugee.


“BEFORE, ERITREANS USED TO HELP EACH OTHER. ALL ERITREANS HELPED EACH OTHER AND THERE WAS A ‘GOOD ATTITUDE’. BUT NOW THE ATTITUDES OF ERITREANS HAVE CHANGED – BECAUSE OF THE DROUGHT. PEOPLE DO NOT HELP EACH OTHER ANYMORE AND THAT MAKES IT HARDER TO SURVIVE.” Saho farmer from Eritrea, My Ayni Camp, Ethiopia


12 / UNHCR


© UNHCR/ Christopher Herwig


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