Estonian formin: We must protect, help most vulnerable in race against climate change

  • 2021-08-19
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - On Thursday, the World Humanitarian Day (WHD), Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets affirmed Estonia’s support for preventing and mitigating climate change.

This year, the theme of the World Humanitarian Day is climate change. "The theme of the World Humanitarian Day is especially welcome in a year when UN reports warn the world of unprecedented climate change, which is clearly caused by human activity. As the Secretary General of the UN Antonio Guterres has aptly said -- the climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win," Liimets said.

WHD this year draws attention to the most vulnerable social groups across the world to make their voices heard and to ensure that the current serious situation is taken into account at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in September. "Millions of people have lost their homes, livelihoods or lives due to climate change. We must protect those who happen to be living in regions affected by climate change and are struggling," the foreign minister said. "In particular, this concerns women and children who are already in a vulnerable position in humanitarian crises," she added.

The foreign minister expressed regret about the fact that the greatest negative impact of climate change is hitting regions that are already suffering from humanitarian crises and stressed that managing the consequences of climate change is a challenge that requires global solidarity. Estonia continues to offer humanitarian aid to the people most affected by crises, with a special focus on internally displaced persons and refugees.

The importance of humanitarian aid was also discussed by Liimets and Guterres at a meeting in New York on Wednesday. Afghanistan is the most recent example of the importance of humanitarian aid. "We must put pressure on the Taliban to respect international agreements and human rights if they wish to have continued international cooperation with Afghanistan," Liimets said. "Estonia is firmly supporting the work of the UN’s Afghanistan mission UNAMA and its role in helping humanitarian aid reach civilians in need, as well as in the protection of human rights and the reconciliation process is more important than ever."

Liimets highlighted the fact that most of the humanitarian aid provided by Estonia is aimed at mitigating crises caused by armed conflict in Syria and Ukraine. Through the years, Estonia has also provided humanitarian aid to mitigate the impact of natural disasters and offered essential aid to people who have suffered from the consequences of climate change, such as drought, hurricanes, monsoons and floods. For example, Estonia has provided assistance in the Sahel region in Africa, the coast of the United States and in India, Nepal and Bangladesh in South Asia. In these kinds of crises, essential aid includes food, clean drinking water, shelter, child protection, education activities and the prevention of gender-based violence.

This year’s WHD includes the campaign #TheHumanRace. It is a global challenge calling on people to exercise for 100 minutes via the Strava platform.

The World Humanitarian Day is celebrated every year on August 19. This day was designated in memory of the 22 humanitarian workers who were killed in a bomb attack on the UN’s Baghdad headquarters in 2003. In 2021, an estimated 235 million people in 56 countries are in need of humanitarian aid.