By: CHARLENE LANYON/The Fiji Times

THE issue of climate change and migration in the Pacific is very present and very critical to all, says Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga.

Speaking at the Regional Meeting on Climate Change and Migration at the Pacific in Suva this week, Mr Sopoaga, said people being displaced around the region because of climate change and related events was increasing by the day.

“Every single day we are seeing people displaced internally and externally from their countries because of effects of climate change,” he said.

“We are aware of recent studies that say that for the past seven years an average of 62,000 have been displaced by climate change related events every day.

“This people are not refugees as defined under the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees, as they have not suffered political persecution in their original places of living.

“We need to find a way of guaranteeing climate change displaced people have protection of their basic rights under international law.”

The regional meeting hopes to identify key priorities and responsibilities for advancing commitments under global and regional policies concerning the issue.

“As people in this region know very well, the issue of migration, refugees and displaced people touches on very sensitive issue and in this context we are very aware of the tragedy and suffering that surround the migration policies of our islands in this region,” said Mr Sopoaga.

Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, while speaking at a UN high-level summit to address large movement of refugees and migrants in New York in October, had said the issue of climate change displacing large numbers of people was of particular concern to Fiji.

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