Migration and global displacement occur all over the world. There are dozens of reasons why people leave home. However, there are three reasons that we should be most concerned about: 1) War, 2) Violence and Persecution, and 3) Climate Change.
Events such as the Israel-Hamas war, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, spiraling violence in Haiti and Central America, and drought/famine in East Africa have forced millions to flee their homes.
Being forced to flee one’s home is becoming more prevalent. Human migration has increased since 1970. Some experts project that by the year 2030, there could be 1.2 billion climate refugees alone.
Climate change typically causes people to leave home due to climate-related disasters. These disasters can be sudden or feature a slow onset. These disasters can be either temporary or permanent, within countries or across borders.
Extreme weather, flooding, rising temperatures, and damaged ecosystems have caused people to leave their homes unwillingly. With increasing global surface temperatures, the odds of more fires and droughts increase. The odds also increase for more intense storms. As more water vapor evaporates into the atmosphere it becomes fuel for more powerful storms to develop.
More heat in the atmosphere and warmer ocean surface temperatures often lead to increased wind speeds of tropical storms. This creates a greater risk of flooding in certain areas. Rising sea levels expose higher locations not usually affected by the sea and to the erosive forces of waves and currents.
No One Leaves Home Willingly
It is important to realize that no one leaves home willingly! Would you want to leave the place where you were born – your home – where you know everything and everyone? Would you leave willingly if your parents, grandparents, and other relatives lived there? Would you want to leave if that was where your ancestors lived? Of course not! Those who leave home do not want to either! However, they are forced to leave for some of the reasons described above and because they desire a better and safer life for themselves and their children.
Internal Displacement versus Refugees
Internally displaced persons or groups of persons who have been forced to leave their homes or places of habitual residence have not crossed an internationally recognized border. They are not considered refugees. In contrast, refugees do cross an international border into a different country. Twenty people become refugees every minute.
Most internally displaced persons are women and children. They are especially at risk of having their basic human rights abused. More often than refugees, the internally displaced tend to remain close to conflict zones, get caught in cross-fires, and are at risk of being used as pawns, targets, or human shields.
Description of the Forcibly Displaced
According to the Peoples Dispatch (2023), more than 110 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes in the first six months of this year. About 90% of displaced people are living in low-to-middle-income countries. About 83% of internal displacements are recorded in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. Are you seeing a pattern here?
Those living in poverty are less able to prepare for, respond to catastrophic events, or pick up and leave home.
The same is true with climate change. Climate change will disproportionately affect the poor and will have a greater negative impact on the poor than those who are wealthy. It already is. See: https://www.oxfam.org/en/press-releases/one-five-persons-dont-have-enough-water-drought-stricken-east-africa
Across the world, climate change is disproportionately impacting Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, especially women. The United Nations estimates that women make up 80% of climate refugees.
Women, often the caretakers of the family, are more likely than men to experience poverty. This impedes their ability to recover from climate disasters. Also, keep in mind that the risks of gender-based violence against women and girls rise in areas disrupted by climate change. Those with fewer financial resources or those who are caretakers for others cannot easily pick up and start somewhere new.
Policies to Help
Experts tell us that human migration will continue and is likely to increase. We see increases in the number of people leaving home and trying to get into the U.S. along our southern border. Developed nations will continue to be viewed as attractive landing spots by those forced from home.
The answer is not to separate babies and children from their parents as the U.S. did in the past. That was cruel and inhumane. The answer lies in helping migrants. The challenge is to facilitate the smooth integration of newcomers. No doubt, there will be hardships and difficulties, whether logistical, fiscal, or political, but these need to be weighed against the benefits that accrue over the medium to longer term.
Here are eight policies that may help:
- Economic Development: Go to those areas of the world that have high emigration rates and promote economic growth to create jobs and improve living conditions, reducing the push for migration. I will say it again at the risk of being redundant: People do not want to leave home. They are forced to leave home. If migrants enter a country, then that country should strengthen the ability of labor markets to absorb migrants—by enabling immediate ability to seek work and providing better job-matching services. After all, the U.S. and Western European countries need younger workers!
- Conflict Resolution: Go into those world areas where there is violence and instability and promote peace. Work to resolve conflicts. Many human migrations are driven by war, violence, conflict, and persecution.
- Humanitarian Aid: Provide humanitarian aid to address the root causes of migration, such as natural disasters and extreme poverty.
- Refugee Assistance: Provide support for refugees and internally displaced persons, both within their home countries and in host countries.
- Education and Skill Development: Invest in education and skill training to enhance opportunities for people in regions with high emigration thereby reducing the need for migration. If refugees or migrants come into a country, leaders should enhance access to education and training by providing affordable education, cultural education, language, and job training.
- Bilateral Agreements: Encourage cooperation between countries to manage migration flows, address labor shortages, and improve border security.
- Integration Programs: Implement effective integration policies to help migrants adapt to their host countries and contribute to their economies.
- Global Cooperation: Promote international cooperation and dialogue to develop comprehensive and sustainable solutions to migration challenges.
The 1795 Group Can Help
We care a lot about the world that we will leave for those who will follow in our footsteps. We want this little blue planet to be a better place for all who live on it.
That’s why we do what we do. We believe in being part of solutions. Let’s work together.
Perhaps you would like a guest speaker or a presentation on this topic. Perhaps you would like to have your students, learners, or employees enjoy an in-person or virtual professional development workshop in this topical area. Perhaps you need a course to be written for your learners. Whatever your need, the 1795 Group can help. Call us and let’s brainstorm ways to work together.
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