Ahead of the World Humanitarian Day usually marked on the 19th of August every year, it is important that the international community addresses the effects of climate change especially on the more vulnerable, that is to say, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) among others. This becomes urgent following the United Nations’(UN) report, recently, which put up a ‘Code Red Alert’ for humanity on this critical issue.
The Intergovernmental panel on climate change blames activities of humans for the devastations caused by global warming. In a report, the UN climate change panel also states that the trend is ‘dangerously’ close to getting out of control.
Similar warnings have been given on what is presently happening, pointing out that immediate action was needed if the world must avert climate interruptions for decades and centuries to come. As the years pass by the weather becomes extreme, either too cold or too hot depending on where one is in the world. Glaciers are melting at a fast pace as drought is eating through the land.
In Nigeria, there have been floods in some areas of the North central and South and desertification in the far north, while some other countries battle hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires as well as heat waves among others.
In the United States of America alone, reports indicate that as at August, this year, 500,000 acres of forest have been destroyed through wildfires in California. In Venice, tourists waded through ankle-deep water in St. Mark’s Square. The scary reality is that all of these occurrences may only be a tip of the iceberg. There are other reports of how climate change is changing the world as we know it.
In view of these, experts are of the opinion that unless immediate, rapid and large-scale action is taken to reduce emissions, the average global temperature is likely to reach or cross the 1.5-degree Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warming threshold within 20 years.
For Nigeria, increase in drought and flood are evidence of climate change. In 2019, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) revealed in a report that floods had displaced approximately 1.9 million Nigerians. This year, 2021 media reports also claim that about 4,000 people have already been displaced by flood.
This Code Red Alert issued by the UN is for humanity to act fast. This year’s celebration of World Humanitarian Day is focused on climate change and the date is around the corner. It is obvious from what is happening that time is almost running out on the world’s most vulnerable, who contribute the least to the global climate emergency and who incidentally are the ones hardest hit by it. The Sahel region, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), has communities that are facing ‘chronic poverty, harsh climatic condition, recurrent epidemics, poor infrastructure and limited access to basic services.’
According to UN, in 2021, the Nigerian refugee crisis will be in its seventh year, caused by terrorism. The Lake Chad Basin region is still struggling with humanitarian emergency. As at December 2020, UNHCR estimates claim that there are more than 3.2 million people displaced in Nigeria. These include about 2.9 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in North-eastern part of the country. With the imminent food insecurity, the situation can only become worse.
This year’s World Humanitarian Day is set aside as an occasion to remember these vulnerable people and how livelihood would get worse for them if immediate action was not taken to address in a meaningful way the adverse effects of climate change.
The challenges faced in addressing these issues in Nigeria are numerous. The federal and state governments are bugged down with the hydra-headed insecurity ravaging parts of the country. That seem to be taking their attention away from the threat climate change poses.
As a Newspaper we urge the federal government to do the needful by equipping security personnel to quell insecurity across the country, to protect lives and property and prevent famine in the land. It is only when this is done can we fully focus on saving our own part of the planet.
Furthermore, we appeal to the federal government to take the issue of climate change a little more seriously. There seem to a lot going on in terms of paper work without much being translated into actionable policy. The authorities concerned should mobilise resources enough to create the awareness, educate and sensitise Nigerians on the harmful effects of climate change. A change of attitude on the part of the people is required, the way they pollute the environment not minding the implications. We insist that a lot can still be done to bring about a positive change in attitudinal behaviour. This World Humanitarian Day is a good starting point that must not be missed.