Climatic Stress is Creating Refugees in East Africa, Confirms New UNHCR/UNU Report

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  • 2012•06•22     Rio de Janeiro

    Climate change is making rural populations in East Africa more vulnerable, and has played a part in driving some into areas of conflict, and even across borders and into exile.

    That is the finding of “Climate Change, Vulnerability and Human Mobility: Perspectives of Refugees from the East and Horn of Africa”, a new report published by UNHCR and UNU. The report, released on 21 June at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (the Rio+20 Summit), is based on the personal testimonies of some 150 refugees and internally displaced persons in Ethiopia and Uganda — most of them formerly farmers and pastoralists from Eritrea, Somalia and eastern Sudan.

    While most people displaced solely as a result of extreme weather conditions stay within their own country, some are impelled to cross national borders. Those who do face special problems because they are not necessarily covered by the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.

    ”This report confirms what we have been hearing for years from refugees. They did everything they could to stay at home, but when their last crops failed, their livestock died, they had no option but to move”, said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.

    “The report highlights how important it is to understand the real experiences of vulnerable people with environmental stressors today,” added UNU Rector Konrad Osterwalder. UNU helped to design the research methods and implemented the fieldwork, together with Bonn University, the London School of Economics and UNHCR.

    For more information, see the report launch announcement.