UN refugee agency backs plan to boost protection for people fleeing disasters

Delegates endorsed the “Agenda for the Protection of Cross-Border Displaced Persons in the Context of Disasters and Climate Change” at the Nansen Initiative Global Consultation in Geneva, which concluded Tuesday. The Agenda identifies the practices necessary to address the possible protection needs of people displaced across borders in the context of disasters and climate change, in a principled and practical way. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has, from the very beginning, been a staunch supporter of the Nansen Initiative and is committed to continuing to work with relevant partners to maximize support to States.The non-binding agreement adopted at the meeting pledges to protect people driven to other countries by disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, droughts and rising sea levels. “Among the most important lessons derived from the Nansen Initiative is that states can prevent and prepare for increased displacement in future when the right policies are in place,” UNHCR said in a press release. The UN refugee agency has also launched an overview highlighting its work on the environment and climate change, which has been released at a time when more and more people are vulnerable to environmental disasters and changing global temperatures. UNHCR notes that the majority of the almost 60 million people displaced around the world today are situated in ‘climate change hotspots.’ The overview also sets out UNHCR initiatives to tackle climate and disaster displacement, including the development of guidance, together with the Brookings Institution and Georgetown University, on planned relocation of populations threatened by disasters and climate change. With the upcoming UN conference in Paris, known informally as COP 21, where global leaders will meet to reach consensus on a historic climate change agreement, UNHCR has renewed its call for states to reach an accord that takes into account the growth of climate-change related human mobility and the need to take proactive measures in response. “If we can draw any lessons from the current refugee situations in Europe and the Middle East, it is to take the forecasting seriously, accept the realities of migration and displacement, and deal with them effectively and as a matter of urgency,” said UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk in his address at the Nansen Consultation. “Radical action is required of us now to mitigate against the worst effects of climate change. The Paris agreement presents an opportunity to achieve this,” he added. read more

Well holey god Giant sinkhole swallows family car

first_imgUpdated 11pmIT WAS SUPPOSED to be a normal Sunday afternoon for one couple in England but instead they ended up with a sinking feeling (sorry).A large 30ft deep sinkhole opened up in Phil and Liz Conran’s driveway in Buckinghamshire in southern England yesterday, swallowing their car whole.Nobody was inside the Volkswagen Lupo when the ground beneath it gave way. The car is still at the bottom of the hole where it is covered with rubble.Phil Conran looks out of a window from his home.Obviously we’re not geologists but this is one hole-y impressive geological feature. (Again, we’re so sorry).Emergency services were called to the scene and spent an hour assessing the situation. “Firefighters placed a cordon around it and gave safety advice,” a spokesperson for Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority said.A view of inside the sinkhole. The outline of the car can be seen at the bottom.The local council has said it is working to help repair the hole. In the meantime, the couple have been advised to find somewhere else to stay while further investigations are carried out.Sinkholes in the UK (and Ireland) are very rare, with most appearing in rural locations. They are caused by underground water hollowing out the ground and causing the surface to give way.Surveyors look at the damage caused. Phil and Liz Conran standing outside their home in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. Pics: Steve Parsons/PA WireRead: We thought that earlier pothole was big but then we saw this one… > Read: Underwater sinkhole suddenly swallows a dozen trees >last_img read more