Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

The ignored refugees – the growing numbers displaced by climate change

TIM MCDONNELL , This month, diplomats from around the world met in New York and Geneva to hash out a pair of new global agreements that aim to lay out new guidelines for how countries should deal with an unprecedented surge in the number of displaced people, which has now reached 65.6 million worldwide.

But there’s one emerging category that seems to be getting short shrift in the conversation: so-called “climate refugees,” who currently lack any formal definition, recognition or protection under international law even as the scope of their predicament becomes more clear.

Since 2008, an average of 24 million people have been displaced by catastrophic weather disasters each year. As climate change worsens storms and droughts, climate scientists and migration experts expect that number to rise.

Meanwhile, climate impacts that unravel over time, like desert expansion and sea level rise, are also forcing people from their homes: A World Bank report in March projects that within three of the most vulnerable regions — sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America — 143 million people could be displaced by these impacts by 2050.

In Bangladesh, hundreds of thousands of people are routinely uprooted by coastal flooding, many making a treacherous journey to the slums of the capital, Dhaka. In West Africa, the almost total disappearance of Lake Chad because of desertification has empowered terrorists and forced more than four million people into camps.

It’s a problem in the United States as well. An estimated 2,300 Puerto Rican familiesdisplaced by Hurricane Maria are still looking for permanent housing, while government officials have spent years working to preemptively relocate more than a dozen small coastal communities in Alaska and Louisiana that are disappearing into the rising sea.

A December study by Columbia University climate researchers in the peer-reviewed journal Science projected that if global temperatures continue their upward march, applications for asylum to the European Union could increase 28 percent to nearly 450,000 per year by 2100.

But so far, there’s no international agreement on who should qualify as a climate refugee — much less a plan to manage the growing crisis………

Yayboke believes that development agencies need to step up funding for climate adaptation programs, which can help prevent displacement and reduce government spending on recovery from predictable natural disasters later on.

“We are spending so much money on this stuff, but we’re being totally reactive,” he says. “There are proactive things we can do that we’re just not doing.”

Few places are more illustrative of that problem than Bangladesh. According to the CSIS report, up to 70 percent of the five million people living in Dhaka’s slums were displaced from their original home by environmental disasters.

“The situation and scope of this problem is entirely new, and of biblical proportions,” says Steve Trent, executive director of the Environmental Justice Foundation, which released its own report on Bangladesh in 2017. “It demands an entirely new legal convention. The global compacts are a start, but it’s clear that they’re not enough.”

Tim McDonnell is a journalist covering the environment, conflict and related issues in sub-Saharan Africa. Follow him on Twitter and Instagramhttps://www.npr.org/section

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June 22, 2018 - Posted by | General News

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