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A new research centre in New Zealand has been launched in anticipation of an increase in climate change forced migration.
The issues facing people forced out of their homes due to conflict or climate change is the focus of the Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies at the University of Auckland.
The centre's Professor Jay Marlowe said both environmental change and persecution was creating unprecedented numbers of displaced people.
“In particular what we are wanting to do was to one continue to respond to the crises associated with conflict induced displacement but also to recognise the impact of climate and climate change and how human-induced mobility through, particularly high impact weather events, is something that we will need to continually and increasing respond to.”
Marlowe said close to 25 million people around the world were displaced last year due to severe weather events.
He also said seven of the top 20 most at risk countries to such disasters were in the Pacific.
This was the reason Marlowe saw as it as important to partner with Pacific people when helping the plight of those who were displaced.
The professor said the aim was for their work to make tangible differences in the lives of forced migrants.
“Knowing the world isn't enough, you also have to look to change it,” Marlowe said.
“So the Māori name for our centre is 'Tāwhārau Whakaumu', which translates to 'centre of transformation'.
“So really what we are looking to do within that endeavour is to ensure that the people in these specific areas or communities are very much at the centre of that work.”
Marlowe said the centre would partner with NGOs, governments and academic institutions across the region.
The centre would be approaching their work from a multi-disciplinary approach.
“Some of the stuff...obviously requires legal expertise. There will also be implications in respect to education and health and housing.
“Working with economists trying to figure out how all these things work, Marlowe said.
SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS
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