Climate change is an emergency for everyone, everywhere
A devastating convergence of conflict and climate change is driving displacement and making life even more precarious for those forced to flee.
In the run-up to COP26, much of the conversation has dealt with predictions about the future and forthcoming pledges for more decisive action: carbon neutral by 2030, net zero by 2050.
But for millions of people around the world, climate change is already a daily reality.
Ninety percent of refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, and 70 percent of people displaced within their home countries by conflict and violence, come from countries on the front lines of the climate emergency.
They are vulnerable not only to extreme weather like floods or cyclones, but also to seeing their livelihoods dry up due to drought and desertification.
From Burkina Faso to Bangladesh, and from Afghanistan to Mozambique, climate change is increasing poverty, instability and human movement; it is fuelling tensions and competition over dwindling resources.
Outbreaks of violence and extreme weather push people who have already fled once to flee again. But even if peace is restored, displaced people cannot go back if their home areas have been made uninhabitable by drought, floods or rising sea levels.
What we are seeing now is a devastating convergence of conflict and climate change that is both driving displacement and making life even more precarious for those already forced to flee.
Some of the most climate-vulnerable countries are mired in conflicts that have lasted for decades and devastated generations.
In Afghanistan – one of the most fragile countries in the world suffering from four decades of conflict – the compounding impacts of climate change are having profound consequences for those least able to cope. UNHCR has worked in Afghanistan for more than 40 years. I personally served in the country for several years.
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