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Pacific Churches prepare for millions of new 'environmental refugees'

More than 200 million people will become refugees or internally displaced persons due to climate change by 2050 in Southeast Asia and the Pacific: this is the prediction made in Copenhagen by international experts, that has become a cause for concern among the Churches of Oceania.

Fides reports that a Forum of Churches in Oceania has decided to put in place initiatives to increase awareness, prevention, and support for those people who, especially in the Pacific Islands, are likely to be helpless victims of the phenomena induced by climate change, such as drought, typhoons, hurricanes, and rising sea levels.

The Forum talks about the birth of a new category of people: 'environmental refugees,' which will emerge onto the world stage in the coming years, and the Forum says it is ready to initiate activities to ensure "respect for basic rights of people forced to emigrate because climate change."  The Asia-Pacific - notes the Forum - is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, often exacerbated by poverty of the affected populations:

"The links between poverty, health, and ecology are becoming tighter, as the planet struggles amidst a serious ecological crisis and the economic crisis." Over one third of the population of the poor that exist in the whole world live in Asia and the Pacific.

And the state of extreme poverty reduces the ability of people to combat climate change. Thus, what we need is a clear commitment of governments and the international community, which can not bypass these issues that are central to life itself and to the development of populations of Asia and the Pacific.

Source: Fides