Plight of internally displaced people | Daily News


UN high-level panel seeks solutions:

Plight of internally displaced people

Amina Ibrahim (50) arrived in the camp in Gunagado, Ethiopia after the drought killed her family's cattle and an outbreak of disease endangered her family.
Amina Ibrahim (50) arrived in the camp in Gunagado, Ethiopia after the drought killed her family's cattle and an outbreak of disease endangered her family.

A high-level panel on internal displacement established by the U.N. Secretary-General in late 2019 said it will seek concrete long-term solutions to try to alleviate the plight of tens of millions of people internally displaced by conflict and natural disasters. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has given the eight distinguished members of this high-level panel only one year to come up with a realistic plan to prevent displacement and mitigate its effects.

Climate Change and internal displacement

The world has been used to seeing displacement as a result of conflicts or man- made disasters or natural causes. The latter assumes great significance given Climate Change will become a driver of displacement. Hence matters of prevention, protection and return or resettlement will have connotations and technical solutions different from what current literature has on this subject. The writer has alerted a member of the UN High-Level Panel with regard to a need to focus and the options to consider.

Resolution 64/162 The UN General Assembly’s of December 2009 recognized natural disasters as a cause of internal displacement and raised concerns that Climate Change could exacerbate the impact of both sudden-and slow-onset disasters, such as flooding, mudslides, droughts, or violent storms. In 2010, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change recognized that mobility –migration, displacement and planned relocations is an important form of adaptation to Climate Change. In its “Cancun Adaptation Framework,” it invites all parties to go further in understanding, coordinating and cooperating on Climate Change-induced displacement, migration and planned relocation, where appropriate, at national, regional and international levels

Climate Change is defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as “any change in the climate over time, whether due to natural variability or [...] human activity.” However, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change focuses specifically on Climate Change that is “attributed directly or indirectly to human activity” and is “in addition to natural climate variability.”

Impact of Climate Change on mobility

The way that Climate Change impacts displacement is affected by mega-trends like population growth, rapid urbanization, increased human mobility and food, water and energy insecurity. Local and regional factors, such as pre-existing socio-economic and governance situations, can also affect the scale and nature of displacement.

In this larger context, Climate Change can be seen as an impact multiplier and accelerator. In other words, in addition to its own negative impacts, Climate Change may exacerbate the risk of conflict which can, in turn, cause further displacement. Subsequently, the effects of Climate Change may lead to increased competition over scarce resources and the loss of livelihoods which may increase the risk of conflict and violence, causing additional displacement.

Climate Change also intensifies both sudden-onset and slow-onset disasters, both of which cause displacement. Sudden-onset disasters such as cyclones and floods are expected to become both more intense and more unpredictable as a result of Climate Change. Slow-onset disasters tend to prompt people to move in search of livelihoods, food security and safety—a trend that is already happening throughout much of the world.

Climate Change-related displacement takes place in complex contexts and it is difficult to draw direct causal relationships. For example, flooding may increase as a result of the effects of Climate Change, (such as increased glacier melting), but also because of human action such as deforestation. As it is difficult to disentangle the particular factors causing displacement, it is important to adopt a holistic approach to understanding the impact of Climate Change on the movement of people.

Climate Change-induced displacement occurs because of, or is exacerbated by, a number of different changes in the physical climate and environment, including: increased droughts, environmental degradation and slow-onset disasters such as desertification, which undermines agricultural livelihoods and reduces food security; higher temperatures in water and air, and increasing acidity of the seas; contraction of snow-covered areas and melting of sea ice, leading to rising sea levels that can make coastal areas and low-lying island states unliveable; increased frequency and intensity of weather-related natural hazards such as tropical cyclones, hurricanes, mudslides and flooding; and conflict and social upheaval, directly or indirectly related to Climate Change-related factors, such as competition for scarcer natural resources, changing livelihood patterns, increased social tensions and the possible concentration of vulnerable populations, especially in poor urban areas.

Durable solutions to Climate Change displacement issues

l Climate resistant seed varieties, ground water recharging, use of water foot print calculations, reforestation, de silting of water catchment sources are some of the options to use. An alarming factor is beyond a particular temperature plant seeds/plants die. The Nansen paper circulated in 2015 has pictures of where temperatures are due to rise in South Asia. We will face a scarcity of food as the global temperatures rise. Chlorophyll, the primary material of life begins to denature as the 39 degree threshold is passed. We are already witnessing 40 degree plus temperatures in many nations with the probability of exposure times increasing. The consequences will be catastrophic.

* Climate Change is a source of financial risk for nations.

* Introduction of eco system services as a measure to mitigate. Ecosystems are forests, mountains, wetlands, agricultural land, freshwater.


Protection of Refugees and Migrants - Kolkata Declaration 2018

Excerpts, “The right to move is a universal human right and any restriction on that right cannot be subject to policies and measures that violate the dignity of human beings. The idea of a global compact must acknowledge the practices of protection at various regional, country, local, customary, city, and other scales.

Any global compact aiming at sustainable resolutions must be based on wide-ranging dialogues involving refugees, migrants, stateless persons and groups defending them; In any redesigning of the global framework of protection, perpetrators of violence and displacement must be held accountable for their actions; Refugees, migrants and stateless persons working as informal labourers are entitled to social and economic rights; Stateless persons should be prioritised for protection. Restoration of their citizenship rights is a global responsibility; in the context of widespread forced migration and statelessness in Asia, a regime of protection along the lines of the African Charter of Human and People's Rights and its regional systems and institutions is imperative. Such a Charter must involve specific provisions of human rights, including labour rights, of migrants, refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons to ensure the dignity and rights of all”.


Disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness

With natural hazards increasing in both frequency and intensity, governments are under growing pressure to take preventive actions to reduce exposure, minimize vulnerabilities and avoid or limit the adverse impact of hazards. Governments are responsible for protecting their populations, including through the integration of disaster risk reduction strategies into national development policies, as affirmed by General Assembly resolution 64/142.

These strategies may include physical infrastructure, strengthening the resilience of affected persons, expanding early recovery capacities, as well as activities like building national and local humanitarian response systems, disaster management systems, and participation mechanisms.

Climate Change-induced displacement puts more emphasis on the positive obligations of states to anticipate and take measures to prevent or mitigate conditions that may bring about displacement.



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