General Assembly President says ‘climate refugees’ are already a reality

Srgjan Kerim, President of the 62nd session of the General Assembly

24 June 2008 – Climate change is forcing people around the world to leave their villages or even their countries because of the increased frequency of floods and droughts and the re-emergence of diseases, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim said today.

“The topic of climate refugees is no longer a concept – it is a sad fact,” Mr. Kerim told the first annual meeting of the Global Humanitarian Forum, held in Geneva.

He said the impact of global warming was already so intense that it was altering the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people, calling for “a global alliance for action” to devise solutions to the problems raised by climate change.

“Each nation, each city, each town, each community and individual has a stake,” he said, stressing that climate change affected nearly every aspect of human activity, including the environment, health, migration, energy, good governance, security and economic development.

During his statement to the Forum, Mr. Kerim also highlighted the work of the 192-member General Assembly this year on climate change, including the debate earlier this month between Member States and financial institutions on the role that private investments can play in tackling the problem.

Mr. Kerim, who is on the first leg of an official visit to four European countries, held talks yesterday in Bern with Swiss President Pascal Couchepin, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Michael Ambuehl and parliamentarians. The discussions focused on UN reform, the global food crisis and climate change.

The Assembly President heads to Liechtenstein tomorrow and then Austria and Italy for the final legs of his trip.


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