You know the story: We live in a flat, globalized and increasingly borderless world. The global economy is interwoven to a degree that may have been unimaginable a few decades before. However, it’s not a borderless world for many of the world’s refugees. Due to dire circumstances at home many people wish to emigrate from their countries. At the end of the year 2010 the UNHCR counted more than 15 million refugees worldwide (and even more are internally displaced people). Many countries are trying hard to keep their borders shut for these refugees. Think of the fence that seperates the United States from Mexico. Think of the Southern European countries that try to prevent refugees from entering the European Union or think of pictures from the boat people that try to get from Southeast Asian countries to Australian shores.
If you are searching for answers you should immediately stop reading this blogpost. I’m writing these lines not because I’d like to announce solutions but rather because I myself am searching for some answers. Perhaps you can help?
I was motivated to write this blogpost when I saw this video on The Guardian’s website. It is a short portray on a Somali refugee who went to Libya. Then again he had to flee to Tunisia because of the heavy fightings in Libya last year.
Now this is, unfortunately, a story that we know although I doubt that the majority of us can understand what kind of hardships these refugees suffer from. But what I ask myself is what will happen if the number of refugees will constantly increase? There are predicitons that by the year 2050 there could be between 150 million and 1 billion climate refugees. How will the world’s nations face this challenge? So far, it seems like they plan to fence off their territories.
One of the most vulnerable countries when it comes to climate change is Bangladesh. It is a densely populated country and one fifth of the country could be flooded by the end of the century. As a result, millions of Bangladeshi people could be affected and they could opt for escaping to India. In the 1980s India started to build a fence along its border with Bangladesh. The fence stretches out over 2000km. But will climate refugees who lost their homes and their land be deterred from a fence? What would India do in this case? How will other countries react in case millions of refugees would like to cross their borders? Will we experience that a borderless world holds only true for goods and capital but not for human beings? And do industrialized countries who are mainly responsible for climate change have the moral duty to accommodate millions of climate refugees? What do you think?
On the day I published this blogpost I asked people from India via Twitter whether they know anything about debates in India regarding the border fence and the consequences for future climate refugees from Bangladesh. Here is what my FutureChallenges.org colleague Anuja Upadhyay replied:
No …haven’t heard on future climate refugees being talked about. But on the border fencing is claimed to be necessary … to prevent illegal narcotics, cattle smuggling, illegal migration, cross border human trafficking from Bangladesh. The killing of the 15 year old to be bride from Bangladesh who was trying to cross the border and other violence by BSF(border security force) soldiers (from India) was highlighted by indian mediahttp://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/article2826161.ece?css=print; http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2011/04/indias_border_bangladesh but a lot more by Bangladeshi and foreign media.
Last year when the Home Minister P. Chidambaran went to Dacca he promised that the BSF would not use non -lethal weapons when patrolling. it is said that firing incidents have come down by 70%. Bangladesh home minister Shahara Khatun’s visit to India in from 23-25 Feb this year. Here’s a link to both minister addressing the media after their talks http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2928357.ece. there are a lot of other issues too between Bangladesh and India like extradition treaty between the countries,Teeta river water issue( u can google it up if you want)
Of course climate change and environmental degradation in bangladesh will be a push factor for migration …but I haven’t seen it discusses so much .since I am not an expert I can find out as I am planning to meet some one( expert working in these areas) for a write up on disasters/climate change and new democracy.