Environmental changes are influencing migration patterns around the world and in turn creating a population that receives little recognition as refugees or displaced persons. According to The Hindu, since 2008, 24 million people are displaced annually by natural disasters. The number of forcibly displaced people is also at its highest- 65.3 million people. On the continent of Africa alone, about 60 million people will be displaced by 2020. Leading to the increase in these figures are slow environmental shifts that in the long run will result in even more displacement.
Voskoboynik believes that acknowledging climate change as a cause in the displacement of many around the world will help the UN and other multilateral and governmental agencies in recognizing them as climate refugees. The status is political in its matter because it would provide protection to people experiencing this type of migration. Though, since the term has not been recognized in the Geneva Convention on Refugees, many aid agencies do not recognize them.
Despite this, some states are taking action to protect these populations. In the case of Mali, due to desertification, many people from rural areas have now moved to urban areas such as its capital Bamako. This shift shows that migration journeys are not just related to migration abroad but migration within a country from rural to urban areas. That is why Morocco’s King Mohammed VI called on African nations, during the Africa Action Summit in November, to view the migration of these populations in a way that reimagines African cities. He sees the migration of these populations as a call to reinvent African cities so that they meet the demands and needs of a growing, and diverse city population; ultimately viewing environmental migrants as assets in reshaping urban areas. These different political views have to be considered and discussed further as they influence the livelihoods of these populations… Just imagine the education that children are, are not or slightly receiving because of these views.
- Africa Future. (2016 November 21). African cities hold the key to transformative climate-driven migration. African Times. Retrieved from http://africatimes.com/2016/11/21/african-cities-hold-the-key-to-transformative-climate-driven-migration/.
- Jauhar, A. (2016 December 5). The nowhere people. The Hindu. Retrieved from http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/The-nowhere-people/article16765025.ece.
- Oltmer, J. (2013 October 9). Which effects do global environmental changes have for migration relations. BPB. Retrieved from http://www.bpb.de/gesellschaft/migration/168682/environmental-changes.
- Voskoboynik, D. (2016 November 14). The legal limbo of climate refugees. New Internationalist Blog. Retrieved from https://newint.org/blog/2016/11/14/the-legal-limbo-of-the-victims-of-climate-change/.