Feeds

Environmental refugees could hit 50m by 2010

Climate change not helping

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

The world could be facing a surge in the numbers of people made homeless by environmental degradation, with UN researchers estimating that by 2010, there will be 50m so-called environmental refugees in need of aid and support.

"There are well-founded fears that the number of people fleeing untenable environmental conditions may grow exponentially as the world experiences the effects of climate change and other phenomena," said Janos Bogardi, director of the UN University's Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS).

But currently, global conventions define a refugee as someone who has a "...well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion..."

"This new category of ‘refugee’ needs to find a place in international agreements. We need to better anticipate support requirements, similar to those of people fleeing other unviable situations," Bogardi argues.

The question of how to define an environmental refugee is a complex one, and the UN researchers acknowledge the dangers of taking a too simplistic approach. For instance, growing deserts are the single biggest factor is driving these kinds of migration. And although climate change is an exacerbating factor, unsustainable farming methods and population growth are also directly responsible.

Another major change will be that these new refugees will most likely migrate within their own countries, the researchers say.

Places in particular danger include Sana'a, Yemen’s capital city, villages on the edges of the Gobi desert, as well as Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Sana'a's population has doubled every six years since 1972, but the aquifer on which it depends for water could run dry by 2010, according to the World Bank.

Half of Egypt's farm land faces contamination with salt water, while Morocco, Libya and Tunisia each lose over a thousand square kilometres of farmland to the desert every year.

UNU-EHS has established a new research chair on social vulnerability. One of its main areas of focus will be migrations forced by "slow moving catastrophes", such as desertification, vanishing safe water and climate change-induced sea level rise. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?