Climate refugees to overwhelm aid agencies by 2015
by David Masters
April 27, 2009
Aid agencies could find themselves overwhelmed by soaring numbers of climate change refugees within the next six years, according to a new report by Oxfam.
The international relief charity said the number of people affected by climate disasters is set to increase to 375 million per year by 2015, stretching the current humanitarian aid system to its limit.
At least $25 billion (£17.2 billion) per year will need to be set aside to cope with the consequences of increased droughts, heatwaves, floods, wildfires, storms, and landslides caused by global warming, Oxfam said.
This figure is nearly double the current worldwide emergency aid budget of $14.2 billion.
“Climate change is set to overload the humanitarian system and destroy the lives and livelihoods of people today and into the future,” said Oxfam chief executive, Barbara Stocking.
“The system can barely cope with the current level of disasters and could be overwhelmed.”
She added that the current humanitarian system is a ‘post-code lottery on a global scale’ leaving many people in desperate need without essential aid.
Since the 1980s, the number of people affected by climate-related disasters has increased from an average of 121 million to 243 million per year.
The increase – and projected future increase – is largely due to the number of people migrating from rural areas into city slums, which leave densely-packed populations highly vulnerable to climate-related disasters including flooding and landslides.
Oxfam’s projection for the increased number of refugees does not include people hit by other disasters such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and wars.
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