Bangladesh asks US, Europe to open borders for climate refugees

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Washington, Dec. 5 (ANI): Bangladesh Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith has asked both Europe and the US to assume responsibility for millions of people who will be displaced by climate change.

"Twenty million people could be displaced [in Bangladesh] by the middle of the century. We are asking all our development partners to honour the natural right of persons to migrate. We can't accommodate all these people - this is already the densest [populated] country in the world," The Guardian quoted Abdul Muhith, as saying.

Signalling that developing countries are not prepared to accept a weak deal at next week's Copenhagen climate summit, Abdul Muhith said Bangladesh wanted hosts for managed migration as people began to abandon flooded and storm-damaged coastal areas.

He also urged the UN to redefine international law to give climate refugees the same protection as people fleeing political repression.

"The convention on refugees could be revised to protect people. It's been through other revisions, so this should be possible," he said.

This is the first time that a senior politician from a developing country has put forward such a proposal.

Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said the Bangladeshi migration proposal should be taken seriously.

"This is clearly a warning signal from Bangladesh and similar countries to the developed countries. And I think it has to be taken very seriously. If you accept that those countries that have really not been responsible for causing the problem, and have a legitimate basis for help from the developed countries, then one form of help would certainly be facilitation of immigration from these countries to the developed world," he said. (ANI)

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