Climate change forcing people from their homes every two seconds – Oxfam

2nd December 2019

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Sue Green

Climate-related disasters were the number one driver of internal displacement over the last decade, with one person forced from their home every two seconds.

That is according to a new briefing from Oxfam, which warned that 20 million people are displaced by catastrophes linked to climate change every year, mostly the world's poorest.

The charity said that people are now seven times more likely to be driven from their homes by cyclones, floods and wildfires than they are by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Around 80% of all people displaced in the last decade live in Asia, home to 60% of the world's population and over a third of those living in extreme poverty.

The analysis also reveals that small island developing states account for seven of the 10 countries facing the highest risk of internal displacement from extreme weather events.

Financial support for these communities is expected to take centre stage at the COP 25 summit in Madrid, which began today and will run over the next two weeks.

“Our governments urgently need to get to grips with a climate crisis that is driving millions of women, men and children from their homes,“ Oxfam GB chief executive, Danny Sriskandarajah, said.

“The poorest people are paying the heaviest price. Climate change is forcing hungry farmers in Guatemala, pastoralists in Ethiopia, and those hit by cyclones in Asia, to abandon their homes and face an uncertain future.“

The briefing reveals that people in low- and lower-middle income countries such as India and Bolivia are over four times more likely to be displaced by extreme weather than those in rich nations like the US.

Nearly 5% of the population of Cuba, Dominica and Tuvalu, were displaced by extreme weather each year between 2008 and 2018. Small island developing states' per capita emissions are around a third of those in high-income countries.

Oxfam warned that displaced women are particularly vulnerable as they can face high levels of sexual violence.

The UN is due to conclude a review of the progress made under the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage at COP 25. Developing countries will be pushing for a new fund to help communities recover and rebuild.

Governments can and must make Madrid matter, Sriskandarajah said.

They need to commit to faster, deeper emissions cuts, and establish a new loss and damage fund to help poor communities recover from climate disasters.“

Image credit: ©iStock


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