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People who are forced to flee their countries because of climate conditions are not recognised as refugees making it harder for them to find safety.

As our planet warms, we’re experiencing more frequent and severe weather events, rising sea levels, prolonged droughts and altered ecosystems. These environmental shifts directly affect people’s livelihoods by destroying crops and depleting water sources. They make once-inhabitable areas uninhabitable.

In response to these challenges, many individuals and communities have no choice but to abandon their homes and seek safety elsewhere. The vast majority will remain within their country borders – it’s predicted that by 2050 up to 86 million Africans will migrate within their own countries due to weather shocks. But some will cross borders, triggering the need for international protection.

The challenge, however, is that people crossing borders due to weather don’t qualify as refugees under key laws and conventions. This displacement could be due to sudden-onset events, such as volcanic eruptions or flooding, which may pose an immediate threat to life. Or it could be due to slow-onset events, such as desertification or rising sea levels, which may eventually make life untenable.

It’s hard to say exactly how many people this affects because it’s a complex topic. However, we do know that cross-border migration affects tens of thousands of people every year. For instance drought conditions in 2022, exacerbated by political insecurity and instability, forced at least 180,000 refugees from Somalia and South Sudan into parts of Kenya and Ethiopia.

Original source: https://theconversation.com/