Bangladesh – the great climate change exodus

Thousands of rural families in Bangladesh are being pushed into Dhaka and other crowded cities as their land and houses have been washed away, the New Internationalist reports. But by 2070, Dhaka itself will be one of the most climate-stressed cities on earth, according to the UN. Heat stress, river and coastal floods are likely if climate change continues unabated.

Bangladesh is calling for a new UN refugee convention to recognise climate refugees. In the meantime, Bangladeshis attempting to flee across the border to India face a fence-building programme along the border and gun-toting border guards who have shot a estimated 10,000 people trying to cross the border without papers in the last 10 years.

2 thoughts on “Bangladesh – the great climate change exodus

  1. Hello and thank you for this article. So-called environmentally induced migration is multi-level problem. According to Essam El-Hinnawi definition form 1985 environmental refugees as those people who have been forced to leave their traditional habitat, temporarily or permanently, because of a marked environmental disruption (natural or triggered by people) that jeopardised their existence and/or seriously affected the quality of their life. The fundamental distinction between `environmental migrants` and `environmental refugees` is a standpoint of contemporsry studies in EDPs.

    According to Bogumil Terminski it seems reasonable to distinguish the general category of environmental migrants from the more specific (subordinate to it) category of environmental refugees.

    Environmental migrants, therefore, are persons making a short-lived, cyclical, or longerterm change of residence, of a voluntary or forced character, due to specific environmental factors. Environmental refugees form a specific type of environmental migrant.

    Environmental refugees, therefore, are persons compelled to spontaneous, short-lived, cyclical, or longer-term changes of residence due to sudden or gradually worsening changes in environmental factors important to their living, which may be of either a short-term or an irreversible character.

    According to Norman Myers environmental refugees are “people who can no longer gain a secure livelihood in their homelands because of drought, soil erosion, desertification, deforestation and other environmental problems, together with associated problems of population pressures and profound poverty”.

    • This is a pretty theoretical comment – are you working in this area, or studying it? I had to look up Essam El-Hinnawi and Bogumil Terminski to find out who they are.I’m not sure how or why the distinction between environmental migrants and environmental refugees matters? Interested to know why you think it does.

      The general point that seems worth making is that, whatever you call them, people are having to leave the places where they live because environmental changes/climate change is making it difficult or impossible to survive there. And this lends urgency to the need to reduce and adapt to climate change.

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