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International Campaign on Climate Refugees’ Rights (ICCR) launched at Copenhagen

[Copenhagen, Friday 11 December 2009] While the countries split wide open on combating climate change, the civil soiceity groups have launched `International Campaign on Climate Refugees’ Rights’ (ICCR) at Copenhagen. The social movement groups from Asia, Africa and Latin/Central America joined hands together to demand the rights of millions of people being displaced by the climate change.

Opening the launching of the campaign, Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, convenor of the ICCR said, "global civil society groups should come forward to build a wider constituency to claim the justice and rights of the climate induced refugees". 

Mr Ahmed also demanded "a legal safeguard protocol should be in place to ensure the political, social, cultural and economic rights of the climate refugees by the international community presently meeting under the Conference of Parties (COP-15) here in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A collage of distinguished speakers spoke about the climate change and the human rights and justice during the launching of the international campaign with a strong audiences in the venue of Klimaforum.

The Goldman Prize Winner and the Executive Director of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) Rizwana Hasan said "we don’t want the causes that produce climate refugees. However we are confronting the causes of climate change." She demanded to ensure climate justice for all and to take measurses for a legal institutional framework for the victims of climate change. 

Dr Ahasan Uddin, one of the authors of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from Bangladesh demanded to review Geneva Convention 1951 on Refugee on the light of climate refugees. He further reiterated to consider even a separate international institutional framework for the climate refugees which will provide complete dignity and respect.

Demanding the recognition of climate debt, Lidy Nacpil from Jublee South- Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) said "We are not asking assistance or aid but the reparations from the industrialised countries for the over extraction and consumption of natural resources’.

Demba Moussa Dembele, the Chair of the LDC Watch from Senegal, and a member of the international committee of the campaign said "we dont want climate change but system change". He suggested, the need of the hour is a new type of relationship between the North and the South to combat the climate change and ensure rights and justice for the cliamte refugees.

Shahin Anam, Director of Manusher Jonno, a civil society foundation based in Dhaka, said, "most of the policies in the southern countries are anti-people". She demanded pro-people policies to ensure the rights and justice for the climate refugees. 

Maria Theresa Lauron from Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN) and also the coordinator of People Movement on Climate Change (PMCC) based in the Philippines strongly called for climate justice now. Ms Maria said ‘falls solutions are really aggravating the situation rather addressing the plight of the affected people due to capitalistic globalization’.

"The large hydropower structures which are being pursued as clean energy by the governments and international financial institutions to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions are displacing local communities in the South", said senior Ashoka Fellow and also the member of the campaign Ravindranath.

While presenting the climate induced impacts on various communities in Asia, Senior Sri Lankan environmentalist and member of the international committee of the campaign and the Executive Director of Colombo based Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) Mr Hemantha Withanage strongly demanded that international responsibility on the climate induced migration should be clearly manifested in articles of globally agreed long term action plan. "The present negotiations on the Long Term Action Plan must accept and negotiate under the adaptation section 17 of this climate induced migration", added Mr Withanage.

Dr Avilash Roul senior climate change expert strongly recommended that the government and international financial institutions must address climate induced displaced people immediately to avoid the future environmental conflict. 

Geza Tessenyi, President of the Intercultural Communication and Leadership School and acclaimed international legal expert on the refugess suggested to building broader coalition among the various groups to review the legal regimes.

While the packed house open for discussion, many suggestions come from the audiences. A documentary film titled Climate Chaos in the South was also shown in the occassion.

The International Campaign on Climate Refugees’ Rights (ICCR) is a global independent association aiming at asserting and realizing the rights and ensuring justice to the climate induced displaced victims—climate refugees. Civil society groups from Asia, Africa and Latin/Central America consisiting of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Senegal, Uganda, EL Salvador etc, are the members of this campaign while currently the secretariat is based in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


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