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Leading climate justice activist, Greta Thunberg, called on Friday, 27 January 2023 for immediate action to help tackle the impacts of climate change on those forced to flee their homes, or leaving in search of a better life.

Reported by UN News Website Greta said that the situaton is a question of life and death for countless of people having to flee because of the climate crisis.

The latest "Interconnected Disaster Risks" report, launched August 2022, from the UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security stated that the period between 2021 and 2022 saw record-breaking catastrophic disasters in all corners of the world. Some 10,000 people lost their lives, and an estimated $280 billion was incurred in damages worldwide.

Thousands of others flee their homes in the context of slow-onset hazards, such as droughts or coastal erosion linked to sea level rise. There is high agreement among scientists that climate change, in combination with other drivers, is projected to increase displacement of people in the future.

Misleading term

Who are these people displaced by climate crisis. Can we call them “climate refugees”? UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR defined the term “climate refugee” as misleading because in international law the word “refugee” describes people fleeing war or persecution and who have crossed an international border.

Climate change according to UNHCR affects people inside their own countries, and typically creates internal displacement before it reaches a level where it pushes people across borders. It is therefore preferable to refer to “persons displaced in the context of climate change” instead of calling them climate refugees.

UNHR mentioned that no region is immune from climate change, but the risks of displacement are greatest for countries with high exposure to hazards and with large populations in areas that lack the capacity or resources to adequately prepare.

An annual average of 21.5 million people have been forcibly displaced by weather-related sudden onset hazards – such as floods, storms, wildfires, extreme temperature – each year since 2008. Time again to listen to Greta.


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Hizbullah Arief

Pascaline Gaborit