A woman holds a cup for water in an IDP settlement in Somalia A woman holds a cup for water in an IDP settlement in Somalia  (AFP or licensors)

Caritas: Climate change migrants can offer ‘blueprint for change

Caritas Internationalis releases a new report on climate migrants and the Church’s work to seek solutions to gaps in prevention, financial, legal and policy protection.

By Sr. Titilayo Aduloju, SSMA

According to data from an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment, “more than 20 million people have been displaced by weather-related events, more than double the average number of people displaced by conflict.”

Thus, at the opening of the week-long event of the Global Year of Action's "Together We" campaign, Caritas Internationalis launched a new report on people who leave their homes due to climate change.

The report, entitled “Displaced by a Changing Climate: Caritas Voices Protecting and Supporting People on the Move”, seeks to “promote integral ecology while protecting people and our planet”.

The report also delved into the experiences of people displaced by climate change both inside and outside of national borders.

Worthy of note is that the publication was a result of collaboration with national Caritas organisations from different regions.

Voice for the victims

The Caritas publication centred on the plight of those who have been forced to relocate due to climate change.  

“More than 20 million people have been displaced by weather-related events, more than double the average number of people displaced by conflict,” according to the IPCC.   

With this publication and the forthcoming COP28 in Dubai between 30 November and 12 December, Caritas hoped to give a voice to individuals whose stories are not heard or acknowledged at the international levels where discussions about global climate are held.

Migrants (foto 2019)
Migrants (foto 2019)

Caritas “Together We” global campaign

Alfonso Apicella, the Caritas Internationalis global campaigns manager, at a press conference, said, “the integral link between this publication and Caritas' Together We global campaign.”

"This intersection highlights for us the vital role of public participation and its enormous potential to narrow the gap between campaigning, research, and intervention that Caritas has been hearing for years from our global network and beyond,” he said.

“Through the letter-writing initiative at the heart of the Global Year of Action for Together We campaign,” he continued “people are invited to share their messages calling for concrete climate action at”.

Ensuring ethical responsibility

Also at the press conference, the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, Mr. Alistair Dutton, stressed that it is our “moral responsibility” to make sure that people in developing countries are not harmed by the “unscrupulous hyper-industrial activities carried out by Western companies.”

"The reality is that the climate is becoming so erratic, so extreme, so harsh, that people can no longer recover,” he said. “They are being driven out of their homes.”

Mr. Dutton also said there is no other way for those who are currently experiencing real and actual loss and damage to recover from the genuine loss and harm from which they are unable to heal to find other ways to live.

Caritas filling the vacuum left by governments

Presenting the Caritas publication, the lead report author, Cécile Stone, said the paper included multiple accounts and testimonies of individuals who were displaced as a result of gaps in planning, finances, laws, and policies.

Ms. Stone also said that it is crucial for politicians to take action and face reality.

“There is a vacuum left by governments and, in many places, Caritas is trying to fill this void, but its efforts are a drop in the ocean compared to the scale of the problem,” she stressed.

“People must not be left alone to bear the impact of displacement. They need support,” she concluded.

Caritas Bulgaria (Foto 2022)
Caritas Bulgaria (Foto 2022)

Protect victims’ human rights

Caritas Brazil's National Advisor for Migration and Refugees, Cristina Dos Anjos da Conceição, shared her observations on the evidence emphasised by those affected by climate change:

“In this report, we can also hear the stories of people who have hope,” she said. “This publication is important to give visibility to this problem, to the lives of so many people who suffer from this reality of displacement due to climate change, and to provoke a dialogue with governments directly so that the human rights of these people can be protected.”

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27 October 2023, 16:14