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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Panama. The first climate displaced persons leave the island threatened by rising water levels

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On Wednesday, the first climate refugees in Panama received the keys to their new homes on the continent. Their relocation was necessary due to rising sea levels caused by climate change and overpopulation on the small Caribbean island.

About 1,200 people from the indigenous Guna community will leave the overpopulated island of Carti Sugdupu, which is at risk of flooding due to rising sea levels. On Wednesday, they received new homes on the mainland from the Panamanian authorities.

During a ceremony attended by President Laurentino Cortizo, residents received 300 houses in the town of Nuevo Carti in the province of Guna Yala on the Caribbean coast of Panama, built at a cost of $12.2 million. The estate has electricity, running water and parks – the “La Prensa” daily reported.

– I'm excited. The houses are beautiful. They are small but very comfortable, 57-year-old Vidalma Yanez told AFP on the threshold of her new home.

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The first climate displaced persons leave the island threatened by rising water levelsBienvenido Velasco/PAP/EPA

“The climate crisis has forced us to move communities off the island.”

On the island, the community lived in primitive huts with dirt floors. They had no drinking water, no sewage system, and no permanent electricity supply. Their homes regularly flooded, and experts warned that the situation would worsen as sea levels rose, AFP reported.

– The climate crisis that the world is experiencing (…) has forced us, here in Panama, to move the community from the island to this urban project of about 300 houses, said Cortizo, handing over the keys to the new apartment to the first family from the island.

The removals will start next week. The boat trip from the island to the new town takes about 15 minutes, AFP reported.

Main photo source: Bienvenido Velasco/PAP/EPA

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