VANUATU now has a comprehensive policy to guide national efforts to protect and support people who are internally displaced by disasters and the adverse impacts of climate change.
Minister of Climate Change and Natural Disasters (MOCC), Ham Lini officiated at the launching of the Climate Change and Disaster-Induced Displacement Policy this week.
He said disasters did not only mean natural disasters, but it included evictions, land conflicts and other development crisis.
He said the new policy will be integrated into the government and non-governmental partner’s operational plans.
“It outlines the responsibilities of government authorities and humanitarian agencies in addressing displacement needs and risks,’’ he said.
“Whether temporary or permanent displacement, the government has the obligation to ensure the movement of people takes place with dignity and appropriate safeguards and human rights protection in place.
“Displacement owing to natural disasters is not new to Vanuatu where the customary generosity and hospitality extended to migrants is as apparent and inspiring as ever, said the Minister of Climate Change and Natural Disasters.
“Yet, it has become a challenge and key focus of the country.
“This is evidenced by the ongoing Ambae emergency which has resulted to the evacuation of the island’s entire population.
“The current response marks the third time in less than a year for these families to leave their homes due to volcanic activity.
“They lost more than just their homes. Their communities and families can be split and livelihoods are disrupted.
“Displacement exposes people to risks as they are obliged to leave their homes in search of safety and secured livelihoods.
“The policy focuses on reinforcing family and kinship as the safety nets for Ni-Vanuatu people, to improve the way we as a nation manage internal displacement.”
Mr Lini said that Vanuatu is ranked the most at risk disaster country in the world which means that the lives of everyone is at risk of sudden natural disasters like floods, cyclones, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions which can trigger the displacement of affected communities.
“Climate change on the other hand, remains the most significant threat to human security and sustainable development of a Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Vanuatu,’’ he said.
“With this policy, Vanuatu aims to be an exemplary to other countries in the region and further away when it comes to dealing with disasters.’’
He thanked the International Organisation for Migration, Vanuatu Climate Action Network, Vanuatu Humanitarian Team and Vanuatu Association of Non-Government Organizations for supporting the Government to develop this first ever National Climate Change and Disaster-Induced Displacement policy.
The National Advisory Board (NAB) on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction were also acknowledged for taking lead in developing the policy with the assistance of stakeholders.