Urgent action needed to curb impact of climate change on world’s most vulnerable
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has urged global leaders to take stronger climate action on behalf of the increasing number of people displaced by climate emergencies.
At the UN Climate Conference (COP27) this month, the High Commissioner highlighted the devastating humanitarian consequences of climate change.
“COP27 must equip countries and communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis to prepare for extreme weather, to adapt, and minimise the impact of the climate emergency,” said Grandi.
“We cannot leave millions of displaced people and their hosts to face the consequences of a changing climate alone.”
This year’s conference is taking place against a backdrop of catastrophes fuelled by climate change, from historic floods in Pakistan to the worst drought in decades in the Horn of Africa, which has forced families to abandon their homes in search of food and water.
Australia for UNHCR CEO Trudi Mitchell has penned an opinion piece for The Canberra Times on the severe hunger crisis unfolding in the Horn of Africa.
In her piece, Trudi shared devastating reports from UNHCR field workers, who are seeing more and more children suffering from acute malnutrition. UNHCR's Deputy Representative in South Sudan, Juliette Murekeyisoni, told Trudi that four children had died from eating poisonous leaves. Many families are so desperate that they are eating whatever they can find.
A combination of climate change, armed conflicts, rising food and fuel prices and the impact of COVID-19 are factors behind the current crisis in the Horn of Africa.
“Herders and pastoralists in the Horn are incredibly resilient,” writes Trudi. “They have endured climate stresses before. But the current prolonged drought combined with skyrocketing food costs from the Ukraine war, and instability from regional conflict, have pushed many to breaking point.”
"The food situation in Somalia is bad. I am not sure if the people we left behind will survive. I am afraid they might even lose their children.”
After her husband passed away in August, 28-year-old Halima was forced to flee her home in Somalia with her three children. She was afraid they would die of hunger if they stayed.
Severe drought has taken hold across Somalia, exacerbated by climate change, and leading to rising food prices. The stability of the country is also undermined by extremist group Al-Shabab.
The drought has displaced more than one million people in Somalia since 2021, with the number of people facing crisis hunger levels in the country expected to rise from five million to more than seven million in the coming months.
"People are so desperate that they sometimes have to fetch water from rivers that are almost dried out. It's muddy water,” says Halima.
Refugees like Halima have been fleeing to Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya in search of food and water. UNHCR Kenya predicts 66,000 new arrivals by April 2023 if the situation continues.
Thanks to the generosity of donors, UNHCR has provided hungry families with life-saving aid – however, millions more are still in need.
For families like Halima’s, your support is crucial. Help us to provide urgent relief in the Horn of Africa.
The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.