Oxfam warns of climate disasters

The number of people affected by climatic crises is projected to rise by 54% -- to 375 million people – by 2015, threatening to overwhelm the humanitarian aid system, according to the international relief agency Oxfam. In a new report, The Right to Survive, Oxfam says the world needs to change the way it prevents, prepares for and responds to disasters.


Oxfam attributes the projected increase in aid demand to entrenched poverty and to people migrating to densely populated slums that are prone to climatic events. This is compounded, the organisation said, by political failure to address these risks and an inadequate humanitarian-aid system.


Using the best-available data on 6,500 climate-related disasters since 1980, Oxfam projected that the number of people affected by climatic disasters will rise by 133 million to 375 million people a year on average in the next six years alone. This does not include events such as wars, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.


Just to deal with the increased numbers, Oxfam said, the world needs to increase its humanitarian aid spending from 2006 levels of US$14.2 billion to at least US$25 billion a year. Even this increase — the equivalent of only US$50 per affected person — is still woefully inadequate to meet their basic needs, Oxfam added.


Oxfam is launching what it calls its most ambitious campaign ever, “Here and Now”, to help tackle the underlying causes of climate change. It aims to raise about US$60 million over five years to fund climate-change work, as well as to mobilise public support for a fairer deal on climate for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.


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