As developed countries are hardly budging on money matters, both for the climate change reparations and adaptation, the identities of scores of individuals and families are dashed by the stronger waves. Every year, the seas inch closer to their long-time homes while much of their neighbourhood already succumbed to the waters.
But even before sea waters engulf an area, communities tend to lose the source of their everyday survival. Saline water increasingly seeps through their arable land, keeping them from farming even for their own household needs.
Moreover, developed countries are not yet keen on opening their doors to climate change refugees, whose situation can be squarely attributed to the unchecked greenhouse gas emissions that have drastically altered the earth.
“There has to be a legal instrument that can protect them and not live as second class citizens. These people do not want to go to the United States to eat at McDonalds but because they were forced to go,” asserted Shaheen Anam of Manushu Jenno Foundation (MJF) in Bangladesh.
“We ourselves need to be prepared. This time is going to come. We need to match our skills with the countries that will host us,” she added.
It is for this reason that civil society organisations are campaigning for an international convention for climate change refugees.
“Climate victims have contributed least to climate change, yet are paying the most. They are victims of global injustice caused by unequal and undemocratic global architecture. They should have the social, political, cultural and economic rights to demand that they be settled in a dignified manner as Natural Persons,” Ahmed Swapan, convenor of the International Campaign for Climate Refugee Rights (ICCR) said.
In the case of migration, women are likely to be most vulnerable with increasing violence of the families’ male members, who could not fill up their traditional roles as providers. As many have not had the opportunity to own land, study and work in formal sectors, it is also expected that they will experience various forms of discrimination in another community.
“Women in every situation bear the brunt. They are not skilled and they experience discrimination. Their special needs have to be emphasised,” Anam remarked.
Lidy Nacpil of Jubilee South asserted, “We need to be able to squeeze from the governments what can be done immediately. But we need to struggle in the long haul for concrete results.”