The Alarming Link between Climate and Migrations

Gabriela Litre, Melissa Curi, José Augusto Drummond, Marcel Bursztyn
Sustentabilidade em Debate - Brasília
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During the still brief 21st century, environmental changes and disasters have caused people to migrate even more than some armed conflicts. In the next 50 years, if umanity fails to prevent further negative impacts linked to climate changes, between 250 million and 1 billion people will be forced to leave their homelands and move to another region and even to another country. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees published this recent estimate.
However, we do not have to wait 50 years to see the effects of the link between climate and migrations. By December 1st 2015, approximately 900,000 refugees overwhelmed Europe’s ability to manage effectively the arrival of people coming from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and seeking asylum. Climate migrants are confronted by social and economic barriers to their integration in  new communities, making them even more vulnerable to exploitation, economic hardships and discrimination. This may lead also to instability. Specialists agree that the Syrian conflict may be in part attributed to an extended draught that happened between 2006 and 2010. It caused
food prices to rise, urbanization of rural people increased, and opposition rose to the  Al Assad regime, marked by corruption and inefficiency. 
Even if the International Organization on Migrations recognizes that there are no dependable estimates of the number of migrants who move on account of climate changes, it has stated that over the last 30 years draughts and floods have tripled and have been responsible for significant population shifts. Asia, America and Africa have been among the most heavily affected continents. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) estimated that in 2014 alone there were 19.3 million climate refugees worldwide. Between 2008 and 2015 there was a yearly average of 26.4 million displaced people, almost one person per second.
Actually, climate induced migrations are a global fact. 700,000 Mexicans are forced to move each year on account of the dwindling resources of the country’s arid lands. In 2015, cyclone Pam, together with other tropical storms, devastated small island nations like Vanuatu and displaced thousands of people. The expanding desertification of the African Sahel continues to contribute to food insecurity, to the loss of means of subsistence, and to the growing numbers of African migrants. Environmental migration is a complex topic because the drivers of migration are multi-dimensional.