Saturday, August 16, 2008

Aust, NZ urged to cater for climate change refugees

ABC News Online, Posted 1 hour 40 minutes ago

There has been an urgent call for Australia and New Zealand to tailor their immigration programs to help Pacific Islanders displaced by climate change.

Over 100 NGOs from across the Asia-Pacific region have sent a letter to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark ahead of this week's Pacific Islands Leadership Forum.

The leaders will be discussing climate change at a meeting in New Zealand tomorrow before Tuesday's Forum.

The letter calls for reduced carbon emissions, resources for resettlement and increased permanent migration.

Damien Lawson from Friends of the Earth Australia says Australia needs to introduce a new category of migration to deal with those who are forced to resettle.

"Ultimately there needs to be recognition in our immigration program that there are people already in the Pacific being displaced because of climate change, people having to leave small atolls and islands because of sea level rises," he said.

"We think there needs to be a special category in our humanitarian program that recognises the displacement caused by climate change.

Mr Lawson says both countries need concrete plans for resettlement and migration.

"Australia and New Zealand need to be putting resources and planning into how the displacement can be coped with and how that resettlement can take place," he said.

"But alongside of that, there needs to be more permanent migration put in place from the Pacific to Australia and New Zealand to help build a resource base."

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