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UN says climate change can be cause for asylum

EPA-EFE//OLIVER BERG
Fumes emerge from a brown coal-fired power plant Niederaussem operated by RWE near Bergheim, Germany.

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A United Nations’ human rights Committee has ruled that people fleeing the effects of climate change can claim asylum.
The panel published its ruling in the case of a man from Kiribati who was sent back to his country after being denied asylum by New Zealand. Even though the committee’s experts concluded that the deportation was legal, the panel said that similar cases might in future justify asylum claims.
“Nevertheless, this ruling sets forth new standards that could facilitate the success of future climate change-related asylum claims”, a committee member said.
“Environmental degradation, climate change and unsustainable development constitute some of the most pressing and serious threats to the ability of present and future generations to enjoy the right to life”, the committee explained, adding that people seeking asylum are not required to prove that they would face immediate harm if deported back to their home countries.
They also explained that as climate-related events, can occur suddenly, as in the cases of storms or floods, or over time, such as in the cases of sea-level rise. They said that either situation is valid for people to seek safety elsewhere.

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