Eco-Migration Could Fuel Future Conflicts

May 31, 2008 09:57 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Extreme weather caused by climate change has already forced many to flee their homes. An EU study says the situation is going to get worse.

30-Second Summary

The report says that “vicious” conflicts will erupt in the world’s poorest countries in response to failing harvests and resource shortages, and that this will result in “millions of ‘environmental’ migrants by the year 2020.”

The authors, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana and Commissioner of External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner, warn that Europe will face an influx of immigrants fleeing the effects of climate change.

They warn that if governments do not respond to this threat, it “could trigger frustration, lead to tensions between ethnic and religious groups within countries and to political radicalization."

This isn’t the first time an organization has voiced such concerns.

A Christian Aid report from May 2007 predicted that one in seven people “could be forced to leave their homes over the next 50 years as the effects of climate change worsen an already serious migration crisis.”

Although both reports speak in terms of future hardship, for many Bangladeshis environmentally induced migration is already a reality.

In August 2007, flooding rains caused by climate change left thousands homeless in Bangladesh. A few months later, the country was struck by Cyclone Sidr, which left more than 4,000 people dead or missing.

Then in December 2007, The Christian Science Monitor reported that a tide of Bangladeshi immigrants were illegally moving to Northeast India. The region’s inhabitants reacted to the migration with “a visceral fear … people say they feel under siege—their culture, politics, and security threatened,” the Monitor wrote.

According to an American Aid Worker writing on The New York Times’ On the Ground blog, “Few countries in the world are more acutely threatened by climate-related disasters and climate change than Bangladesh.”

The country’s future prospects are also bleak.

In September 2007, Dhaka scientists predicted that 20 million people in Bangladesh would become climate refugees by the year 2030 because of infertile land caused by melting glaciers and heavy rains.

Headline Links: The eco-migrant problem

Background: Extreme weather in Bangladesh

Related Topics: Bangladeshis in India and the security concerns of global warming


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