International disaster relief charity, ShelterBox, has issued a desperate plea to the UK Government days before global leaders gather in Egypt for COP 27, asking the Prime Minister to reconsider his decision not to attend the climate summit.
The charity’s Chief Executive, Sanj Srikanthan, 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 prioritize climate resilience.
Mr Srikanthan underscored that time is running out and global inaction cannot be an option because 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.”Sanj Srikanthan
At ShelterBox, a charity specializing in emergency shelter after disaster, “we see the impact human-driven global heating is having on the lives of people across the world” and it is “our duty to make sure their voices do not go unheard”, Mr Srikanthan added.
More areas affected by natural disasters
In Pakistan, severe monsoon flooding is affecting more than 30 million people, washing away lives, homes, and livelihoods. As such, Mr Srikanthan noted that families cannot build resilience and make progress with no place to call home which is the reason why his outfit is 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 pummeled 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 there permanently and aid pre-positioned so we can act fast and provide people with shelter kits, tarpaulins, tools, and other essential items.”Sanj Srikanthan
Responding to worse drought in the Horn of Africa
In the Horn of Africa, Mr Srikanthan noted that “we’re responding to the worst drought to hit the region in more than forty years”. According to him, four consecutive rainy seasons have failed in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. He predicted that 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.
“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 recognize 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.”Sanj Srikanthan
Global inaction or trying to solve it alone cannot be an option, Mr Srikanthan said, adding that the UK has to work together with global leaders and lead the way by prioritizing climate resilience.
“Climate change is borderless. It’s why I, and thousands of others, are calling on you to work with leading economies to prioritize 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.”Sanj Srikanthan
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.