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  • Indigenous people from Latin America attend a gathering of indigenous communities in La Paz, Bolivia in 2007.

    Indigenous people from Latin America attend a gathering of indigenous communities in La Paz, Bolivia in 2007. | Photo: EFE

Published 3 December 2015

The U.N. Population Fund report finds vulnerability has increased worldwide. While Latin America remains peaceful, climate change is the biggest threat.

Latin America and the Caribbean is a “zone of peace” in the world despite lasting challenges in the region, the United Nations Population Fund announced Thursday upon release of its annual report on the state of the world population.

Despite the current state of peace in Latin America and the Caribbean amid an increasingly “fragile” world, climate change is one of the main threats to the region, UNFPA Regional Director Esteban Caballero told EFE.

Nevertheless, Latin America is still better off than conflict-ridden and climate change-vulnerable zones in the Middle East and Africa.

“Latin America, ‘zone of peace’ in a fragile world in emergency.”

Caribbean islands, Central America’s Northern Triangle, and Pacific Latin American cities are particularly vulnerable to climate change, as different parts of the region experience increased intensity and frequency of tropical storms, harsh droughts, and other extreme weather events.

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The UNFPA state of the world population report, “Shelter from the Storm,” details fragility and vulnerability of countries around the world. It finds that women and adolescent girls are the most vulnerable sector of global society in the face of conflicts, displacement, and increasingly hostile climatic conditions.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, only Haiti is considered among the 12 countries very high on the UNPF’s “lack of coping capacity” index.

The report also emphasizes the dire global need for humanitarian support, with more people in need of assistance now than during World War II. In a context of ongoing “crises of fragility, vulnerability and growing inequality” that do not always make headlines but leave millions with “tenuous hopes of peace and development,” some 100 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and 200 million are impacted annually by natural disasters and emergencies, according to the report.

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Another 59.5 million people suffer internal displacement as a result of violence and conflict. In Latin America, the regional hotbed of internal displacement is Colombia, where some 6.04 million people are internally displaced as a result of the country’s 50-year armed conflict. Colombia is second in the world in this category only to Syria, where more than 7.6 million people suffer internal displacement.

According to the report, more countries have suffered various forms of destabilization to be considered fragile today than in recent years, making them more vulnerable to conflict and disasters.

Nevertheless, despite some “difficulties and gaps” in Latin America and the Caribbean, the region is still dominated by overall peacefulness, according to UNFPA. But addressing ongoing challenges will be key in ensuring peace in the future.

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