The deadly consequences of climate change in fragile settings

Floods in Mtwara Region, Tanzania Floods in Mtwara Region, Tanzania © Moiz Husein via iStock

4 November 2022

The climate crisis is having devastating effects on vulnerable people living in conflict situations and lacking access to basic healthcare

In early November, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) issued a joint report cautioning about the “severe compounding effects of growing climate risks and armed conflict” and calling for political action aimed at supporting those in need. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) show how, in the greater Horn of Africa alone, 39 extreme weather and public health events were reported between January and October 2022.

MSF and the ICRC, together with other humanitarian organizations, are working to support communities in countries where climate change and armed conflicts are threatening livelihoods: in addition to the already mentioned Horn of Africa, droughts, floods, and diseases are affecting civilians in South Sudan, Madagascar, Mozambique, and across the Sahel. In the Horn, flooding and drought, along with armed conflicts and diseases, have resulted in 4.5 million refugees and asylum seekers, as well as 12.7 million internally displaced people.

The ICRC, MSF, WHO, and other humanitarian organizations are working to curb disease outbreaks and to ensure that vulnerable populations have access to essential health services. However, Robert Mardini, ICRC Director General, underlined how without an adequate financial and political support “humanitarian actors cannot respond alone to the multitude of challenges”, calling on world leaders to meet the criteria established under the Paris Agreement and the Agenda 2030. Unless urgent measures are taken in this sense, the world’s most vulnerable will continue to “pay the deadly price of a problem overwhelmingly caused by the world’s richest nations.” 

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by Laura Maschio

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