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IOM demands collective action on climate mobility

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The floods resulting from the heavy rains has affected hundreds of thousands including in Burundi. Photo Alexander bee/ IOM Burundi
The floods resulting from the heavy rains has affected hundreds of thousands including in Burundi. Photo Alexander bee/ IOM Burundi

Weeks of heavy rainfall and flooding in the East Africa region has triggered widespread displacement with hundreds of thousands displaced across Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Ethiopia and Tanzania. So far 637,000 people have been affected including 234,000 displaced as of 3 May 2024 according to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, but the numbers keep rising.

“The unprecedented and devastating flooding has unveiled the harsh realities of climate change, claiming lives and displacing communities. As these individuals face the daunting task of rebuilding, their vulnerability only deepens,” said Rana Jaber, Regional Director, East and Horn of Africa “In this critical moment even as IOM responds, the call remains urgent for sustainable efforts to address human mobility spurred by a changing climate.”

The torrential rains have unleashed a catastrophic series of events, including flooding, mudslides, and severe damage to vital infrastructure such as roads, bridges and dams. These disasters have not only claimed numerous lives but have also escalated the suffering of the affected populations and heighted the risk of waterborne diseases.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is working with governments and partners to respond to the impacts of the floods by providing lifesaving assistance to affected populations. In Burundi, IOM has provided emergency shelter, blankets, cooking utensils, solar lamps dignity kits and other items to over 5,000 people and is supporting the relocation of those affected to safe and less flood-prone areas. IOM is also supporting communities across the country on family-level emergency response capacity even as the flooding and heavy rains continue.

In Kenya, IOM, and the Kenya Red Cross, through the support of the Government of Japan, are collaborating to deliver shelter and essential household items to support 39,000 people in Eastern, Central, and Western Kenya – the most severely flood-affected parts of the country. In neighbouring Somalia, the Organisation is targeting approximately 240,000 people in with shelter materials, hygiene kits, essential medical care and psychosocial support, among other services.

In Ethiopia, IOM has supported over 70,000 people affected by floods across Somali and Oromia regions. The assistance, provided through the Rapid Response Fund in collaboration with eight non-governmental organisations, includes the provision of emergency shelter, essential items, and cash assistance.

Africa is highly vulnerable to climate change, despite contributing only about 4 per cent to global greenhouse gas emissions. The East and Horn of Africa has particularly been impacted by alternating cycles of drought and intense precipitation over the last decade. But this is the heaviest rain and worst flooding seen in decades in the affected countries.

As the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) global climate change discussions in Germany draw near this June, set to shape the agenda for the Conference of Parties (COP), it becomes evident that discussions on climate change must now include considerations of human mobility.
Note to Editors

East African leaders have signed and committed to the Kampala Ministerial Declaration on Migration, Environment and Climate Change, which addresses both the challenges and the opportunities of climate mobility. More efforts are needed to support its implementation, including advocating for the inclusion of climate mobility at global climate discussions such as the upcoming COP29 in November 2024, taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan.

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