NAIROBI - The UN Refugee Agency's Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, Raouf Mazou, and Director-General and Special Representative of COP28, Ambassador Majid Al Suwaidi, have conducted a field visit to the Dadaab refugee complex during the Africa Climate Week (ACW) on the margins of their participation in the Africa Climate Summit (ACS) in Kenya.
Representatives of the World Food Programme, Emirates Red Crescent and Intergovernmental Authority on Development joined the high-level delegation on the UNHCR-organised field visit, highlighting climate change's impact on refugees and host communities.
Across the region, climate impacts continue to exacerbate the challenges vulnerable populations face, with the combination of conflict and drought severely affecting their search for safety and necessities such as food, water, and a means to survive.
"Forced displacement in this region has primarily been addressed from its conflict dimension. Yet, displacement in this region must consider extreme weather events such as the recurrent droughts that science attributes to climate change which, combined with conflict, are the main causes of displacement," said UNHCR's Mazou.
He added, "We must act now to ensure that the most vulnerable, who are often those who contribute the least to the problem yet bear the highest cost, are not left alone in their daily struggle and have their voices heard."
Al Suwaidi reflected on the visit and said, "The Dadaab Refugee Complex, which is one of the largest refugee settlements in the world, is a striking example of the urgent and interconnected challenges the world faces."
He added, "Unpredictable weather patterns and the devastating Horn of Africa droughts have disrupted communities and livelihoods. We see how peace and stability can become compromised when resources grow scarce, and tensions rise. The stories I have heard from refugees and host communities in Dadaab are a stark reminder of why we must continue to drive equitable and just climate action that leaves no one behind."
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) will take place in Dubai from 30th November until 12th December 2023. This year's climate summit will dedicate a day to Relief, Recovery, and Peace as part of its two-week thematic agenda to explore ways to relieve vulnerable communities while strengthening resilience and recovery.
The COP28 Presidency and partners are working to bring political commitment, policy reform, capacity strengthening, and programmatic initiatives to scale finance and action for fragile communities.
A key focus of COP28's action plan is to place people, lives, and livelihoods at the heart of climate action, with a focus on fast-tracking a just, orderly, and equitable energy transition, enhancing climate finance, and mobilising action for what is planned to be the most inclusive COP.
Kenya continues to be among the top refugee-hosting countries in Africa and is heavily impacted by regional spillover factors. It hosts more than 630,000 refugees, mainly in Dadaab and Kakuma.
The country has witnessed increased movement waves due to intensifying climate shocks, contributing to food insecurity, tensions, and cycles of conflict in neighbouring countries.
In the Horn of Africa, while rain finally returned in May, the effects of a severe drought, the worst in decades, continue to impact the lives of millions of displaced and local communities in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. While a rapid scale-up of humanitarian assistance since early 2022 undoubtedly saved many lives, funding constraints continue to risk reversing gains made.