United Nations Environment Programme
environment for development Search 
News Centre
 Home News Centre
 Media Contacts
 Press Releases
 In Focus
 RSS / Podcasts

 Printable Version

Natural Disasters Contribute to Rise in Population Displacement

Nairobi, 20 June 2008-There are now more than 11 million refugees worldwide, the United Nations refugee agency has warned as the world celebrates World Refugee Day.

A new report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR)says conflicts, climate change and rising food prices are some of the factors leading to the rise in global displacement to 11.4 million refugees worldwide-up from 9.9 million last year.

World Refugee Day will be marked by a whole range of events taking place around the globe today, with a focus on the fundamental need for protection. Meanwhile UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is on mission in Kenya, where he visited a refugee camp on the Kenyan-Somali border and a camp for internally displaced Kenyans in the town of Naivasha.

The International Federation of Red Cross says climate change disasters are currently a bigger cause of population displacement than war and persecution.

The global impact of the environment on human livelihoods is creating a new kind of casualty-the environmental refugee. Rising sea levels, increasing desertification, weather-induced flooding, and more frequent natural disasters have, and will increasingly become a major cause of population displacement in several parts of the world.

According to a report published by the United Nations University, there are now about 19.2 million people officially recognized as "persons of concern"-that is, people likely to be displaced because of environmental disasters. This figure is predicted to grow to about 50 million by the end of the year 2010.

These forecasts are not inevitable and will hinge on whether the international community can pull together and deliver a decisive and meaningful agreement on climate change at the UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen in 2009, alongside more intelligent management of the planet's nature-based assets.

For more information, please contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, Office of the Executive Director, on Tel: +254 20 762 3084; Mobile: 254 733 632 755 or when traveling +41 795 965 737; E-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org

Or Anne-France White, Associate Information Officer, on Tel: +254 20 762 3088, Mobile: + 254 728600494; E-mail: anne-france.white@unep.org




Further Resources

UNEP Executive Director's Podcast

UNEP Climate Change Website

UNEP Biodiversity Website

IRIN Video: Bangladesh: The Humanitarian Impact of Climate Change

IRIN Video: Kenya: The Humanitarian Impact of Climate Change

IRIN Africa

Summary of UNEP Publications on the Sahel Region

UNEP Post Conflict and Disaster Management Branch

UN Envoy to Visit Sahel to Draw Attention to Regional Challenges


Follow Us

Keep up to date with UNEP events on Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.

Twitter Facebook You Tube

UNEP on Facebook