Press release - 31 October 2022
The international disaster relief charity ShelterBox has issued a desperate plea to the UK Government days before global leaders gather in Egypt for COP 27. It’s asking the Prime Minister to reconsider his decision not to attend the climate summit.
The UK-based charity specialises in emergency shelter and supports people around the world living on the frontline of the climate crisis. Extreme weather is forcing millions of people from their homes, snatching lives and livelihoods every day.
More devastating floods, more extreme storms and scorching droughts will force millions more people from their homes and make more places unliveable. ShelterBox research highlights that 167 million homes around the world could be destroyed by extreme weather by 2040.
The charity’s Chief Executive, Sanj Srikanthan, has issued an open letter to the new Prime Minister demanding the UK Government helps people right now, prepares for future disasters, and works together with global leaders to prioritise climate resilience.
More than 30,000 people are supporting these three key asks in Mr Srikanthan’s open letter to the PM:
Time is running out and global inaction cannot be an option. Extreme weather could destroy 167 million homes around the world by 2040. It’s the equivalent of all the homes in the UK wiped out six times over. It’s a deafening reality check and one that needs addressing without delay to slow down the impact of climate change. As we approach COP 27, the UK Government owes it to every generation to show robust leadership, make courageous decisions, and take urgent action. The political turmoil of the past few months cannot and must not continue to take the focus off the cost-of-living crisis nor the climate crisis facing our planet, our home.
At ShelterBox, a charity specialising in emergency shelter after disaster, we see the impact human-driven global heating is having on the lives of people across the world. It is our duty to make sure their voices do not go unheard.
In Pakistan, severe monsoon flooding is affecting more than 30 million people, washing away lives, homes, and livelihoods. Families cannot build resilience and make progress with no place to call home. That’s why we’re providing shelter, water filters, mosquito net, and solar lights to those affected.
In the Lake Chad Basin, people are trapped between conflict and climate. The freshwater lake where Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Niger meet used to provide for more than 30 million people. But that lake is shrinking and people who once relied on it for their food and livelihoods are having to look elsewhere.
In the Philippines, the islands are regularly pummelled by storms that are growing in strength. People have no time to rebuild their homes before the next one barrels through. We have a team based their permanently and aid pre-positioned so we can act fast and provide people with shelter kits, tarpaulins, tools, and other essential items.
In the Horn of Africa, we’re responding to the worst drought to hit the region in more than forty years. Four consecutive rainy seasons have failed in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. The next one is expected to fail too, yet people are already on the brink of famine and many are on the move as they desperately search for food. We’re supporting tens of thousands of people in the region.
Action is needed now. A ‘wait and see’ approach is not good enough. The UK cannot lead the way when it cuts spending to humanitarian aid. Those cuts have to be urgently reversed. We must recognise the human crisis staring in front of us and provide emergency shelter to help millions of people facing climate disasters right now.
Extreme weather uproots people, only for them to be displaced again and again. Vulnerable communities must be supported against future disasters through resilience. The UK must prepare better and commit funds to help people and communities adapt their homes to withstand future disasters. This should be part of the spending in every country where UKAid provides vital humanitarian assistance.
Global inaction or trying to solve it alone cannot be an option. The UK has to work together with global leaders and lead the way by prioritising climate resilience. Climate change is borderless. It’s why I, and thousands of others, are calling on you to work with leading economies to prioritise sustainable resilience-building for vulnerable communities. International cooperation has the power to achieve so much. Governments must work together to share technology, knowledge, funding, and experience.
This is not the time to delay – clear resolve, strong leadership, and bold action is needed. The time is now. The UK has been a leader on these issues in the past and it can be again. I urge you to make COP 27 the start of change – the difference in reducing the human consequences of climate change that will define and defend our futures at home and across the world.
ShelterBox has helped more than two million people across 98 countries since it was formed in 2000. The charity works with disaster-affected communities and local partners to understand what people need. It knows how home is that essential first step of recovery – a place of safety and dignity; a place to cook, sleep, and shelter.
Support is provided in many ways and includes different combinations of emergency shelter items and training that are locally appropriate to make the biggest difference for communities after disaster.
As well as supporting people in Pakistan, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Ethiopia, ShelterBox is also helping people displaced by conflict in Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Burkina Faso, and Mozambique.
For more information about ShelterBox visit shelterbox.org.
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