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.
Model and photographer Helena Christensen has returned to her Peruvian roots, her mother's native country, to document the dramatic effects that climate change is having on people today.
Following this week's trip, she says: "The impacts of the climate change are extremely severe in the areas we visited. The farmers we met and talked to are already living very hard lives, and are now being forced to adapt to salvage the effects of the rapidly changing climate.
“One of the women I spoke to, Elizabeth Ayma, told me that because rainfalls are less frequent now and impossible to predict due to the climate changes, this is having a huge effect on crop production. As a result, her family has less food to eat and less produce to sell, resulting in her not being able to afford her children's school fees. The lack of nutritional vegetables also affects her family's health."
Helena went to Peru with Oxfam on this journey and her photographs will be exhibited in New York, Washington, London and at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December. A short film of the expedition, captured by award-winning Director Richard Bullock, will also be shown.
Helena says: "We are at a critical tipping point. We need to put pressure on our governments in order for them to take the necessary, radical steps that are needed to lower CO2 emissions. There's no time left, it is absolutely imperative to act now. Hopefully the only benefit of this UN conference won't be just a boost to Danish tourism."
Frank Boeren, Oxfam International's co-ordinator in Peru said: "Climate change in Peru is already devastating and we welcome Helena's commitment to show this to the rest of the world. Peru is on the frontline of climate change, along with other developing countries, which have played little part in causing the problem.
“It is crucial that rich leaders do the right thing at Copenhagen so that we can begin to stop run away climate change and protect vulnerable people around the world."
Notes to editors
Oxfam is a member of the TckTckTck campaign, an online and offline mobilization bringing together an unprecedented alliance of non-governmental organizations. These include WWF and Greenpeace, trade unions, faith groups and individuals to call for a new international climate change treaty at the UN Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen.