24 million climate refugees around world today

December 6th, 2008 - 10:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Poznan (Poland), Dec 6 (IANS) “Climate change is going to lead to a bigger human migration than we’ve ever seen before,” Koko Warner from the UN University said here Saturday.Speaking on the sidelines of the Dec 1-12 summit of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Warner said 24 million people around the world had become climate refugees already, according to an estimate made by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Academics estimated that this figure would go up to 50 million by 2010.

The International Organisation for Migration, a UN body, has estimated that the number of people forced out of their homes by the effects of climate change - lower agricultural output, more frequent and more severe droughts, floods and storms and a rising sea - may reach 200 million by 2050.

The international NGO ChristianAid has estimated that the number may even go up to 700 million after 2050, Warner said.

Giving examples of how climate change exacerbated extreme weather events that forced people out of their homes, Warner pointed out that the 2004 tsunami in Asia had displaced two million people, while this year’s Cyclone Nargis displaced two million more in Myanmar alone.

Warner referred to a map prepared by the German Council for Sustainable Development, which showed India as one of the hotspots for forced migration due to climate change, with people displaced by droughts, floods and a rising sea.

“We can no longer close our eyes to what is happening all around us due to climate change,” Warner added. “We can’t say it’s happening elsewhere.”

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at joydeep.g@ians.in)

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