Australia Urged to Formally Recognise Climate Change Refugee Status

Refugee Council says new category would protect those fleeing the effects of global warming and warns Australian government to prepare for thousands forced from low-lying Pacific islands.
Building beach barriers on Kiribati. Global Environment Facility (GEF)/Flickr

Building beach barriers on Kiribati. Global Environment Facility (GEF)/Flickr

Australia, a close neighbour of small, low-lying South Pacific states at the frontline of climate change, should be the first country to formally recognise climate change refugees, the country’s main refugee advisory body has said.

The Refugee Council of Australia has told the Australian government that it should create a new refugee category for those fleeing the effects of climate change so that they can be offered protection similar to those escaping war or persecution.

The key legal document that defines refugees, the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, defines a refugee as a person who has a well-founded fear of persecution in their homeland because of their race, religion, nationality of membership of a particular group.

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