Climate crisis and migration: Greta Thunberg supports IOM over ‘life and death’ issue

Climate crisis. Image credit: UNICEF-Safidy Andriananten

New York: The head of the UN migration agency IOM, and leading climate justice activist, Greta Thunberg, called on Friday for immediate action to help tackle the impacts of climate change on those forced to flee their homes, or leaving in search of a better life.

António Vitorino, and Ms. Thunberg said they had “found much common ground” during a recent discussion about the impact of global climate change on human mobility.

The Greta Thunberg Foundation has donated 275,000 Euros (around $269,000) to support IOM’s emergency response to the historic floods in Pakistan and the crippling drought in Somalia.

‘Chain of events’

“We need to support people before they move, we need to support people while they move, and afterwards, it’s a chain of events,” Ms. Thunberg said. “We need to think holistically like in any other emergency.”

Mr. Vitorino said he was “fully aligned with the Swedish activist, adding that her generation was “a source of inspiration and of resilience and being relentless in addressing this huge challenge from our experience in the field.” 

With 20 million people displaced every year due to climate change, there is an urgent need to prevent global environmental crises and address the impacts of climate migration, said IOM.

‘Life and death’: Thunberg

“This is a question of life and death for countless of people having to flee because of the climate crisis,” Ms. Thunberg said.

Climate migration can’t be dismissed, the pair agreed, and finding solutions for people to stay, for people on the move, and for people to move, is crucial. 

“The ones who are being more seriously hit by climate change are the populations that have less contributed in the past for the problems that we are confronted with,” said the IOM chief.

“And therefore, there is a need of solidarity and co-responsibility for the fate of those populations that are already today experiencing in their daily lives the human suffering attached to climate change.” 

More than 15 million people in Somalia and Pakistan alone need humanitarian aid due to the recent extreme weather events, IOM estimates.

The donation from the Greta Thunberg Foundation is helping the UN agency continue its emergency response to affected communities in both countries.

Raising awareness

“IOM is thankful for the generous contribution from the Foundation, and we are proud to cooperate with Greta to raise more awareness about the impact of climate on migration,” said Mr. Vitorino. 

Ms. Thunberg highlighted the complementary actions of IOM and young climate activists.

“Everyone has a different role to play. Organizations like IOM are vital in supporting people impacted by climate change, and those of us who can help you [IOM] in your work should do so. And those of us who can raise our voices to speak up for migrant justice and climate justice should do so,” she said. 

Here’s a link where you can learn more about IOM Migration, Environment, Climate Change and Risk Reduction activities.

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