Climate refugees: A 21st century challenge

In early 2008, Tsitsi Madavo, 67, was forced to abandon her village after a severe hailstorm hit Muzabarani, a village in central Zimbabwe, destroying her three huts, crops and livestock.

Every year, as in Muzarabani, environmental excesses around the world force millions of people to abandon their homes in search of places that are perceived to be safer. The impact of extreme weather will be felt more heavily among the poor and marginalized people.

Since time memorial, climate change processes have devastated human settlements, resulting in untold human suffering and vulnerability to poverty and disease. As the world increasingly grapples with the phenomena of climate change, there are fears that it will lead to the internal or international displacement or refugee situations.

There is scientific evidence that the number of people killed, injured or displaced as a result of unpredictable weather patterns has been on the rise in recent decades.

For instance, according to a report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last year, it is likely that global warming will make future cyclones more intense, thereby worsening the magnitude of human suffering.

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