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U.N. REPORT WARNS OF SPREAD OF DESERTS TO FERTILE LAND

CALLS FOR QUICK ACTION

Desert1.jpg Enough fertile land could turn into desert within the next generation to create an “environmental crisis of global proportions,” large-scale migrations and political instability in parts of Africa and Central Asia unless current trends are quickly stemmed, a new United Nations report concludes.

“The costs of desertification are large,” said Zafar Adeel of the United Nations University, who is based in Canada and is an author of the report, to be released Thursday.

“Already at the moment there are tens of millions of people on the move,” Dr. Adeel said in an interview. “There’s internal displacement. There’s international migration. There are a number of causes. But by and large, in sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia this movement is triggered by degradation of land.”

The report’s authors say individual nations and international groups must collaborate to solve what has so far been an underrecognized crisis in the making, caused mainly by climate change. Water resources are overexploited because the poor have no other options, and climate change has exacerbated the cycle. Governments and wealthier countries must aid these populations to develop more sustainable livelihoods or suffer the consequences, the report says.

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