A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Today's international climate hearing, hosted by Oxfam, was the first of it's kind. At the heart of the UN negotiations, which, in week 2 have become known for their slow pace and frustrating lack of progress, climate witnesses gathered to remind delegates that this isn't talk, it isn't politics. It's about people.
In a packed out room full of the world's media (so full UN security had to step in to limit access) we heard testimonies of the impact of climate change from Uganda, Kiribati, Peru and Bangladeh. These stories, as personal as they are, are also representative of something much bigger. This year, over 1.5 million people have participated in hearings organised by Oxfam and our partners, and events have taken place in 36 countries. This hearing, as a culmination of the hundreds of hearings that have taken place around the world, brought all those stories to the attention of negotiators and media here in Copenhagen.
Desmond Tutu spoke about the urgent need to listen to these voices.
Mary Robinson provided a verdict, calling for urgent action in the negotiations.
After the hearing, Mary, along with the climate witnesses, presented the verdict and a real life life ring with the words '1.5 million people. act now save lives' emblazoned on it to Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC executive secretary who thanked the witnesses for coming so far to share their stories.