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Thousands fast for the climate but Yeb Sano not at Lima talks

1 December 2014 -On the opening day of the UN climate summit in Lima, Peru, the largest climate fast in history takes place – including the island of Tuvalu - but Filipino Yeb Sano who inspired the movement is not at the crunch talks.

Mr Sano tearfully addressed last year's UN summit in Warsaw, Poland, the day after Typhoon Haiyan swept through his country killing more than 6,000. In an act of solidarity with his people without food he fasted for the duration of the talks, an act which inspired people around the world to fast for the climate on the first of every month.

But a year on from being the face of the Warsaw summit Mr Sano is conspicuous by his absence in Lima.

Christian Aid's Senior Climate Change Adviser, Mohamed Adow, is at the summit in Peru. He said: "It is powerful to see the movement that Yeb sparked catch fire but it’s strange that he is not here to join us in Lima. Yeb’s absence is very curious given the significant leadership role he has played at these talks fighting for the rights of people suffering from climate change.

“People are scratching the heads as to why Yeb is not on the delegation anymore. He is a ray of light in an often dark process and I hope he has not been excluded from the delegation because some people don’t like the important truth he tells.”

Making this the most significant fast for the climate in history was the decision by the President of Tuvalu to join the fast and ask the rest of his people to do so as well.

Mr Adow said: “Thanks to the movement inspired by Yeb's act of solidarity last year in Warsaw, the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has been asked to fast today by its president. Tuvalu is extremely vulnerable to extreme weather and could be one of the first places to be washed away completely by sea level rise.  For the people of the island nation climate change is not just a political football to be kicked around but a matter of survival.”

Among the many people fasting on Monday is Christian Aid Chief Executive Loretta Minghella. She said: "Climate change is one of the greatest challenges to our world and something which will affect people from different places and walks of life, especially the poorest.  Going without food is a simple act of solidarity we can do to send a message that we demand action to tackle this growing threat.

“Climate change may be our greatest challenge but how we respond to it can also be our greatest opportunity.  A common enemy which endangers people irrespective of their faith or race has the potential to bring humanity together.  The fasting of people from across the world is an example of that united response.”

Mr Sano recently walked the 1000km from the centre of the Filipino capital Manila to Haiyan's ground zero in Tacloban City to mark the anniversary of the strongest typhoon ever to make landfall.

Mohamed Adow will be in Lima for the duration of the summit. He can be contacted for interviews on madow@christian-aid.org.

For more information contact Joe Ware at jware@christian-aid.org. The 24 hour Christian Aid press duty phone is 07850 242950.

Notes to editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended:  this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development.  Further details at http://actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk


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