The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Norwegian Red Cross warned in a report, Thursday, that countries experiencing conflicts in the Middle East are among the most vulnerable to climate change, but they remain almost excluded from any financing related to combating this phenomenon.
In the joint report focusing on Iraq, Syria and Yemen, the two organizations called for additional assistance, saying that the combined effects of climate change and armed conflict are exacerbating humanitarian problems in this region.
As of January 2022, the Climate Funds database, which collects information from 27 funds, listed only 19 projects in Iraq, Syria and Yemen that had been approved for funding.
She said that the total amount spent so far on these projects in the three countries is only $20.6 million, less than 0.5 percent of the funds that have been spent on projects related to combating climate change around the world.
“Climate financing almost completely excludes the most fragile and unstable places,” said Ann Bergh, Secretary General of the Norwegian Red Cross. “It is clear from a humanitarian perspective that this situation must change.”
In the midst of a civil war that has been going on for eight years, Yemen is classified as one of the countries most affected by the climate.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said: “It is not uncommon in Yemen for people to flee their homes in search of safety from conflict and then leave … because agriculture is not possible” due to drought and water scarcity.
The United Nations classifies Iraq, which is still recovering from decades of conflict, as one of the countries in the world most affected by climate change.
Syria is also in increasing danger after more than a decade of war that has devastated the country’s infrastructure.
“Deaths, injuries and destruction are the devastating and well-known effects of armed conflict,” said the ICRC’s regional director, Fabrizio Carboni.
“However, what many overlook are the challenges that people must endure and overcome due to the simultaneous dire effects of conflict, climate change and environmental degradation,” he added.
Financing related to combating climate change is expected to be a central topic at the United Nations Climate Conference “COP28”, to be held in Dubai from November 30 to December 12.
During a panel discussion held Thursday in Dubai, Elena de Jong, advisor to the UAE team for COP28, said that ways are being sought to accelerate and finance actions related to combating climate change before the conference, in conflict zones.
And she saw that “COP 28” provides an opportunity to talk with those who fund the fight against climate change, including development banks such as the World Bank, as well as humanitarian agencies.
“We want to see a major step forward in COP28,” possibly in “the form of a global pact signed by all of these parties,” De Jong added.
And she added that the proposed charter “may include at least two solutions”, such as simplifying the submission of requests for financing, and enabling more local projects, rather than relying on government projects.