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Red Cross warns of disastrous consequences of climate change

A dog walks during a sandstorm in Iraq's southern city of Basra, on Nov 2, 2022. (HUSSEIN FALEH / AFP)

GENEVA – Climate change is dramatically affecting vulnerable people across the globe, particularly those who live in conflict situations or do not have sufficient access to basic health care, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned on Friday.

In a joint statement issued with Doctors Without Borders, ICRC said that of the 25 countries most vulnerable to climate change, the majority are also experiencing armed conflict and a lack of access to basic healthcare.

In a joint statement issued with Doctors Without Borders, ICRC said that of the 25 countries most vulnerable to climate change, the majority are also experiencing armed conflict and a lack of access to basic healthcare

"When climate shocks occur in countries with limited food, water and economic resources, people's lives, health, and livelihoods are threatened," the statement said.

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Somalia has experienced an erratic cycle of droughts and floods in recent years, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation due to three decades of armed conflict.

Humanitarian organizations have also been responding to flooding in South Sudan and across the Sahel, devastating cyclones in Madagascar and Mozambique, and severe drought in the Horn of Africa, the statement said. The climate crisis is also worsening health and humanitarian crises, it added.

"As humanitarians, we are alarmed by the current reality and projections for the future. We see droughts, floods, insect plagues and changing rainfall patterns which can all jeopardize food production and people's means of survival. We see more extreme and more powerful weather events such as cyclones which destroy essential health infrastructure. We see changing patterns of deadly diseases such as malaria, dengue and cholera," the statement said.

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In a world that has already warmed 1.2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, additional warming will lead to disastrous consequences unless urgent and ambitious mitigation measures are taken, it added.  Adequate support must be mobilized for the most severely affected countries, so they can adapt to growing climate risks.

Representatives from across the world will gather in Egypt's coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh to attend the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) from Nov 6-18.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for multilateralism and diplomacy to make the COP27 a "turning point for hope."