65.6 million climate refugees are completely stranded across the world. Recently significant worldwide diplomats met in Geneva and New York to reach upon some new global pacts. These agreements direct towards the way countries must treat displaced people.
This would also put a regulation on countries that have witnessed an unprecedented spike lately. However, it is quite shocking that the increased number of climate refugees failed to receive any formal categorization, protection, or recognition. The international laws have turned a blind eye towards this emerging category of the displaced community.
Approximately 24 million human beings have seen displacement since 2008 due to catastrophic disasters and weather conditions every year. Migration experts and climate researchers have predicted this number to increase exponentially with the increase in droughts, flooding, and storms owing to worsening climate change.
Region-Specific Climate Refugees
Two most crucial factors driving people away from their homes and making them climate refugees are sea-level rise and desert expansion. The March report of the World Bank states that more than 143 million individuals are likely to see displacement by 2050. The report specifies 3 regions most at risk including South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America.
Bangladesh is a regular producer of climate refugees where thousands of citizens are routinely seeing displacement due to coastal flooding. As a result, Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is witnessing a growing slum area in the heart of the city. Lake Chad of West Africa has almost disappeared due to desertification. This has led to the development of terrorist groups and forced over 4 million people to join the camp.
The US is also suffering from this issue. The Maria Hurricane uprooted almost 2,300 families in Puerto Rico and left them without any permanent housing. The government officials spent several years proactively relocating over a dozen minor coastal groups in Louisiana and Alaska which are rapidly disappearing under the rising ocean.
Migration Study & Findings
The climate researchers of Columbia University conducted a study in December 2020 and published their research. They revealed that European Union might receive a 28% increased application seeking asylum each year within 2100. Sadly, international agreements have excluded the victims of climate change and took no initiative to tackle this growing crisis.
Erol Yayboke, an expert at the International and Strategic Studies Centre, remarked that climate refugees receive no government assistance. The main reason behind this is that countries face challenges to reach a consensus over this exiled community.
Nonetheless, this difficulty managed to make some progress after the recent dialogues at the Global Refugees Compact and Global Migration Compact. The General Assembly of the UN is yet to adopt the points of negotiations.
The climate talks in Paris in 2015 gained prominence which was quelled in March where a UN official informed that no internationally legal protection will be given to climate refugees. Fortunately, the recent drafts show some acknowledgment and a better understanding of climate-induced migration. Nevertheless, the refugee compact has a passing mention of climate as a primary factor in the refugee movements.
Nina Hall, John Hopkins University migration expert, emphasizes the need for new legal procedures for climate migrants before they are knee-deep in water. She gave the instance of New Zealand which intends to provide 100 special visas to the Pacific Islanders.
The Problems For The Climate Refugees & Required Solutions
Climate migrants bring forth several unique challenges to international policymakers as evident in the UN 1951 Refugee Convention. Countless people are seeing displacement from their homes. Natural disasters and gradual climate change impact are further driving them away. This makes it especially difficult for laws to identify or categorize these displaced communities. Researchers are pre-emptively engaged in understanding the way climate change works with several other factors to prompt families to move.
Simultaneously it is also discovered that a large number of migrants move within domestic borders whereas new compacts lay emphasis on international movements. The Pacific Islanders are currently facing an existential threat as the sea levels are rapidly swelling. They are in dire need of a legal precedent that will offer them legal citizenship and rights.
A Louisianan community of merely 100 people lost 98% of their land to sea-level rise from the 1950s and relocated inland after several years of effort. On the other hand, the government showed great negligence and insensitivity in their planning process to the Native Americans.
Nationalist & Immigrant Agendas
There is a strong wave of anti-immigrant and nationalist sentiment across the US and the European nations. This posed more issues in the UN meetings, making it impossible to reach some form of consensus regarding this emerging class of migrants. Hall has said that it is greatly problematic to get a binding convention for climate refugees in such a fragile environment globally.
Trump’s administration pulled the US out of the December migration compact owing to his immigration agendas. This suggested that the number 1 migrant destination all over the world was officially off the charts.
More importantly, global compacts do not indicate the end to this problem. The climate agreement in Paris had created a task force to deliver new recommendations for climate migrants. Mariam T. Chazalnoel, the UN climate expert, informed that they will focus on potential measures to prevent the displacement of climate refugees.
This will include the implementation of programs to equip farmers to combat droughts, raise awareness on flooding in deltic regions, and increase resistance to climate blows. Bangladesh has the largest and fastest-growing community of climate refugees and requires immediate assistance. The compact assures adequate funding to proactively take the appropriate measures.