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UNHCR calls for urgent global action at COP28, highlighting climate change’s impact on the displacement crisis

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UNHCR calls for urgent global action at COP28, highlighting climate change’s impact on the displacement crisis

4 December 2023 Also available in:
Two women walk on a flooded street, carrying their belongings.

Recent heavy rains in Kenya have forced many families to abandon their shelters at Dadaab refugee camp and move to higher ground.

GENEVA - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is calling for immediate and collective action to confront the unparalleled impact of climate change and its profound effects on displaced populations and their host communities at the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai.

Throughout the world, the ripple effects of climate change intensify the hardship experienced by displaced communities. The convergence of conflict and climate change critically impedes their ability to secure safety, essential resources, and sustainable livelihoods.

“The climate emergency is punishing displaced people three times; It tears them from their homes, it compounds their crisis in exile and destroys their homeland, preventing them from returning,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi. “This harsh reality highlights the way the climate emergency exacerbates displacement and human suffering.”

Climate change reveals a stark injustice as those who have contributed least to environmental degradation suffer the most. In a concerning trend, nearly 60 per cent of the world’s displaced find themselves in countries most vulnerable to the impact of climate change, such as Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Myanmar.

"As we convene at COP28, prioritizing the plight of the most vulnerable is imperative. Our collective commitment to climate action must involve robust measures to protect those affected," Grandi said. “The inclusion of those most affected is vital to our discussions and responses. The experiences and solutions of displaced communities deserve a significant place in the global climate discussion.”

UNHCR invites the global community to join hands in recognizing the resilience and agency of displaced individuals, urging the world to listen, learn and act collectively for a future where no one is left behind in the face of climate challenges.

As the international community grapples with a well-established scientific consensus and recognized solutions, the pace of change remains insufficient. UNHCR urges a collective and bold call to action, demanding credible steps toward a sustainable future. The urgency cannot be overstated; immediate actions are crucial for displaced populations, who bear a disproportionate impact and urgently require accelerated efforts to address the environmental challenges they face every day.

In anticipation of the Global Refugee Forum next week, UNHCR is committed to close collaboration with governments, the private sector partners, and communities to pave the way for a sustainable future where the nexus between climate change and displacement is effectively addressed through inclusive and innovative solutions.

UNHCR calls on the international community to join in tackling urgent challenges by participating in the climate action pledges, contributing to a more sustainable future for displaced communities.

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