World Refugee Day: We need solidarity and strong international mandates to assist those displaced by climate impacts


Civil society calls on negotiators in Bonn to set strong terms of reference for the review of the Warsaw International Mechanism in COP25

Bonn, 20 June 2019: As the climate emergency unfolds and drives people out of their homes, civil society of Climate Action Network demand that negotiators meeting for the Bonn climate talks respond more rapidly to impacts hitting developing countries.

On World Refugee Day, speakers said that rising climate impacts are destroying lives and livelihoods, rendering people homeless and displacing millions. The climate crisis threatens to exacerbate poverty and push people to the limits of adaptation, suffering the consequences of loss and damage.

People at the frontline of climate impacts need more rapid response to deal with migration, homelessness, impoverishment and violence, including sexual violence. Rich countries, which caused climate change must step up to their moral obligations and responsibility, raise ambition and provide financial support to help people in developing countries cope with the devastating situation poor people face on the ground.


Nouhad Awwad, Regional Coordinator, Climate Action Network, Arab World, said:

“In the Arab world we are facing the adverse effects of climate change from sea level rise, to high temperatures, to intrusion of saltwater in coastal aquifers, to heatwaves and floods. In Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) … the intensified rain that happened in 2009, 2010 and 2011 led to the death of hundreds of people and displacement.”

“The Nabu floods destroyed hundreds of hectares of fruit and other agriculture and displaced people, who are still suffering from these impacts. Morocco became a route transit between climate migrants from West Africa to Europe and it’s hosting the climate migrants of the sub-Saharian region leading to increased tension in coastal areas.”

“All this will be intensified if we don’t see concrete action on the ground. This region facing land grabbing, droughts and food insecurity will face more effects. Here in the UNFCC meetings, we need to focus more on the displacement of people. Developing countries need funds and need support to face the impacts of climate change and the waves of climate immigrants. let us work now to save humanity.”

Sunil Acharya, Regional Advisor, Climate and Resilience, Practical Action, said:

“Ice in the mountain region is melting twice as fast in the last few years. We have already seen loss of one third of ice in the last 40 years. It’s the source of freshwater for billions of people living downstream in Nepal, India and Bangladesh and imagine the situation if they don’t have water to drink.”

“Water springs in the trans-Himalayan region and mid hills of countries like Nepal and Bhutan depleting so fast that people are migrating in throngs. Every other day people have to migrate because there is no water to drink and it will require days just to get a gallon of water.”

“You might have heard about the recent event of Tornado, which is the first ever tornado in the recorded history of Nepal. Unexpected things have been a reality to our region. I have personally seen people in the western region of Nepal displaced by floods three times in the last five years. They don’t have any support required, no safety nets to prepare and deal with those kinds of events.”

“It is the moral obligation of developed countries and those who created this problem to support these vulnerable people. The impacts we are seeing now are just the tip of the iceberg and in a few years’ time if there is no real action, we can see a much more complicated situation.”

“We are now talking only about internal displacement and migration, imagine the situation when the cross-border migration starts. We don’t know how to deal with that as of now. We call on developed countries to heed to the needs of the people impacted by climate change and come up with real solutions.”

Gbemisola Titi Akosa, 21st Century in Nigeria, said:

“Climate induced drying of water bodies and desertification are forcing a lot of herders to move away from where they are to find food and fodder for their animals and once they go down south of Nigeria they encroach on a lot of farms and we have terrible conflict that has displaced a lot of people and taken them out of their houses.”

“In 2018 alone, 1.9 million people were displaced as a result of climate-induced flooding, 82,000 homes were destroyed. As we speak today a lot of people don’t have homes to go back to, they don’t have farmlands to go back to and don’t have businesses to support their livelihoods. This is the kind of situation we’re facing on the ground, some of them are leaving schools and public buildings where the conditions are so deplorable.”

“Some, in internally displaced camps, are experiencing violence, rape and there is no solution in sight. We need audient climate finance. When some of these disasters strike, we need people to have new houses quickly to get themselves together. We need audient response finance to help people manage the situation as it happens.”

“As we continue to negotiate, let us remember that people’s humanity matters… We should remember that we need to show a lot of empathy to those who have been affected. It’s up to us here to give good solutions that rapidly respond to the impacts of climate change so that people don’t continue to die without support.”

Harjeet Singh, Global Climate Change Lead, ActionAid International, said:

“There are 70 million people who are living as refugees today, it is highest in the last 70 years in the history of the UN system for refugees. While there is a lot of human cry in the rich world, the fact is that 84% of these refuges are hosted by developing countries while they struggle with little resources. Now climate emergency is unfolding and putting a lot more pressure on again the same set of developing countries that have little resources to cope with climate impacts.”

“The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center says that 18.8 million people were displaced by natural disasters in 2017, 80% affected by cyclones and floods. These are new displacements added to mounting numbers. This is the scenario we are living in. The scale of impacts is massive and actions are not matching the reality on the ground.”

“While refugees’ rights are still recognized at the UN level, climate migrants have no legal protection either at national or international levels. Their migration is seen as economic migration which is not a reality.”

“It’s about finance support and legal protection required by climate migrants at different levels. As a global community we need to understand that developing countries are facing this twin crisis of conflict and climate impacts so we need to show solidarity and provide them with the necessary support to deal with the problem.”

Written by Hala Kilani, Senior Communications Coordinator, CAN

For follow up in Bonn, contact:

Dharini Parthasarathy, Senior Communications Officer, CAN / whatsapp +918826107830

About CAN

Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of over 1100 NGOs in more than 120 countries working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. More information on