UN agency hails finding on climate refugees

25 January, 2020 12:00 AM printer

GENEVA: The UN refugee agency praised on Friday an expert panel’s finding that sending migrants back to countries severely hit by climate change could breach their human rights, reports AFP.

“Whole communities are going to be at increasing risk,” said Andrew Harper, special adviser for climate action at UNHCR, praising the UN Human Rights Committee’s finding as a “wake-up call”.

“We cannot afford to be reactive... We as UNHCR are looking to work with states to see how we can mitigate the impact of what is already evident,” he told reporters in Geneva.

The committee of experts made their ruling in a case brought by a farmer from the Pacific island nation of Kiribati who was appealing against deportation from New Zealand.

Even though the experts ruled that deportation was justified because the farmer—Ioane Teitiota—did not face an immediate risk, the case opens the way for more such litigation.

“This is a landmark decision with potentially far-reaching implications for the international protection of displaced people in the context of climate change and disasters,” UNHCR said in a statement.