Marginalized communities and indigenous groups: the ‘silent victims’ of climate change

A report recently published by Minority Rights Group has shown that natural disasters have a disproportionate effect on minority groups. Climate change may be on the international agenda, but the consequences for marginalized communities need to be addressed.

The Nasa people of Colombia, the Sami in Scandinavia, the Indian Dalits and the Roma in Western Europe are all at risk from natural disasters. Not only do these communities suffer the worst consequences of climate change, but they are often the last to receive emergency relief. This is the conclusion reached by Minority Rights Group (MRG) in its annual report, State of the World's Minorities 2008 [pdf].

MRG’s annual report analyses the status of minority groups and communities across the globe. This year MRG details concrete examples of communities at crisis-point, often as a result of natural disasters. One of the major factors, according to MRG, is the close link these populations have with their environment, which makes them highly susceptible to the effects of climate change and forces them to change their customs.

The effects of climate change cited by MRG in its report include droughts, floods and forced migration. One of the most recent items to appear on the list is – paradoxically – a result of efforts to combat climate change: MRG highlights that biofuel crops are taking over more and more land, particularly in Latin America, forcing many indigenous communities to leave their homelands.


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