Refugee agency decries the little attention being given to the impact of climate change on displacement

Africa: Climate Change Exacerbating Human Displament, says UNHCR

News from Africa

By Peter Omondi

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has expressed concerns over the continued displacement of people due to the impact of climate change. Addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the Seventh African Development Forum (ADF VII) currently underway in Addis Ababa on the theme, Acting on Climate Change For Sustainable Development in Africa, Mr Chrysantus Ache, UNHCR Representative to the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa said the issue of climate change and its impact on displacement has not been adequately addressed either in Copenhagen or at the ongoing forum.

“As UNHCR, we are concerned that the impact of climate change and its impact on migration is not adequately being addressed or given enough coverage in the media”, Mr Ache said. “Climate change is not just about drought and food shortage. It is impacting on all of us. Millions of people have to cross borders due to adverse climatic conditions”.  Mr Ache said that since climate change is a serious phenomenon taking place today, it calls for urgent attention.

“Climate change challenges should be addressed today and not tomorrow. In Darfur, for instance, the problems of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) are compounded by water scarcity. The IDPs have therefore become CDPs (Climate Displaced Persons), Mr Ache said.

He noted that climate change is a direct cause of conflicts and displacement, as millions of refugees continue to cross borders due to floods, earthquakes and other natural calamities. In a policy paper presented at the forum, UNHCR said the process of climate change and the multiple natural disasters it will engender will in all certainty add to the scale and complexity of human mobility and displacement.