Climate Change to Cause Mass Human Migration

A new study from the United Nations University, Columbia University and CARE International reveals that millions of people will be forced to leave their homes in the next decades to escape rising seas, drought and natural disasters.

"Environmentally induced migration and displacement has the potential to become an unprecedented phenomenon -- both in terms of scale and scope," says the report, which predicts that there could be as many as 200 million migrants by 2050.

The most vulnerable regions include arid African regions, Indian Ocean island states Tuvaku and the Maldives, as well as delta areas in Mexico, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Egypt.

Without a migration plan and funding in place to move and resettle the massive number of migrants, the world's poorest countries and communities will suffer the most from losing their farm land and homes to rising seas.

"In the densely populated Ganges, Mekong, and Nile River deltas, a sea level rise of 1 metre could affect 23.5 million people and reduce the land currently under intensive agriculture by at least 1.5 million hectares."

Climate change migrants may need new rights, the report said. "Those displaced by the chronic impacts of climate change will require permanent resettlement. At present, people who move due to gradually worsening living conditions may be categorised as voluntary economic migrants and denied recognition of their special protection needs."

The report stresses that plans must be in place to help avert the effects of climate change and help displaced people receive development assistance. UN talks to extend the Kyoto Protocol after 2012 are attempting to establish how to share the cost of preparing for and curbing climate change.

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