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Special Edition Magazine, Fall 2019: Sustainability


The Silent Suffering of Climate Migrants

Climate disasters have forced millions of people across South Asia into extremely precarious, inhuman conditions, without the robust global recognition and protection they desperately need. Instead of leaving climate migrants to continue suffering in silence, the world must give them the right to survive and prosper.

DHAKA – Around the world, erratic rainfall has become the new normal. This summer, countries from Europe to South Asia sizzled, and much of India experienced prolonged drought. But when the monsoon rains came, Bangladesh and other parts of South Asia suffered massive flooding.

For much of the world’s population, such calamities are not a doomsday scenario, but a daily reality. Slow-onset disasters, such as gradually rising sea levels and increasing salinity in groundwater, displace nearly 25 million people worldwide each year, and sudden-onset events such as cyclones compound the misfortune. Most climate-displaced people try to earn a living in urban centers, but many, lacking skills or economic opportunities, continue to wander.

The World Economic Forum and other institutions repeatedly highlight the linkages between such slow and sudden disasters, and the risks that climate change and the resulting population displacement pose to the global economy. Yet, because people displaced by climate change do not move all at once, in a mass exodus, they don’t make headlines, and the world does not recognize their plight and offer the robust protection they need.

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