This blog has been focusing on people who choose to enter a country because of various reasons – migrants. We have not talked much about those who do not have the opportunity to choose whether or not they should move. Some people are physically displaced – their homes are literally destroyed. One group of these displaced individuals are Climate Refugees.
What are Climate Refugees?
I am glad you asked. There are approximately 27 million climate refugees accounted for each year.
I’d like to first offer the definition of a refugee. A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence, according to the United Nations High Commissionary on Refugees – an international program meant to support and protect refugees. Whether that support is in a form of resettlement in a different country or providing them with rights to
Climate Refugees are not supported or protected in a similar way. They are forced to leave their homes because of environmental destruction that has threatened their well-being. Some are considered to be Internal Displaced Persons. However, not many countries are even facilitating this program or providing resources to people within their own jurisdiction.
Most climate refugees come from the poorest communities, not necessarily the poorest countries. Unfortunately, those poor communities do not have the adequate infrastructure to survive yet are more exposed to droughts, floods, sea-level rise, typhoons, and extreme hurricanes.
What is being done?
See, that’s the thing. Nothing. For the most part, there is a lack of collaboration among international platforms to assist climate refugees. Climate refugees aren’t even talked about. Think about it, how many times have you heard this term prior to today?
Mainstream media is definitely not addressing this issue.
In fact, climate refugees, in many regards, are considered to be migrants. That seems like an inadequate description since people whose home is submerged in water due to flooding didn’t choose to just get up and leave because they didn’t like their way of living. In order to survive, they have to find a new place.
The most progressive step taken was a manual or The Nansen Protection Agenda. It provides States with practices to better prevent and prepare for disaster-related cross- border displacement.
However, no real legislation has come out of this guideline. There is no program, nationally or internationally in place to work towards assisting these people in desperate need of resettlement.
What can you do?
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has provided a page that allows you to directly work with helping refugees, and many other, crises.
Remember to look out for ways in which you can be directly involved in your community.
There are plenty people being displaced because of local developments. If you need an idea of other problems causing this displacement, check out Naomi Klein’s film This Changes Everything.
Local oil extractions and pipeline developments are just as problematic.
Environmental displacement happened in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy and in 2005 during Katrina. Plenty of people lost their homes because of natural disasters and had to be relocated. Fortunately enough, there were local initiatives willing and able to help.
But what about the communities in underdeveloped communities? Who is helping them?