Oxfam: Climate crises to affect 375 million by 2015

global warmingBangkok - Natural disasters caused by climate change are expected to affect 375 million people by the year 2015, threatening to overwhelm the current humanitarian aid system, a confederation of internatonal aid groups warned Tuesday.

Oxfam International Tuesday launched its report entitled The Right to Survive, studying the potential impact of climate change on the current humanitarian aid system.

The report, based on data on 6,500 climate-related disasters recorded since 1980, predicts that the number of people affected by the increasing trend of drought, floods and food shortages will rise from 133 million now to 375 million by 2015.

"In Asia we anticipate longer dry spells and shorter, more concentrated incidence of rain fall causing ... flash floods and crop damage," Oxfam global climate change expert Bert Maerten said.

"We need to prepare for that eventually," he told a press conference in Bangkok.

Oxfam called on Asian governments to put aside budgets to help the poor adapt and prepare for an increase in climate-related disasters in coming years.

"We would encourage ASEAN (the Association of South-East Asian Nations) to put aside funds for adaptation and mitigation for the poorer countries in the region," Oxfam's East Asia director Sarah Ireland said.

She also called on the international donor community to commit up to 42 billion dollars "to cope with this increasing trend."

"The message we are trying to get across is that we need to act now," Ireland said. "We need to prioritize preparedness, disaster reduction and adaptation strategies." (dpa)