December 15, 2009

"Climigrants" - a new word to wrap our heads around

I was recently reading Ian Jack's column in the Guardian weekend edition (12.12.09) where he wrote "In Bangladesh itself, at least 20 million people are predicted to be displaced by rising sea levels within the next 40 years; nowhere else in the world do so many people face such an immediate future as climate refugees: "climigrants". He went on to say that Bangladesh's Finance Minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith wants international law to define this new category of refugee, "the climate refugee, so that their migration to the UK and elsewhere could be managed". Mr. Muhith went on to say that Bangladesh could play their part by assisting the 'climigrants' by offering training to "make them fit for existence in another country".

In the same Guardian ediiton, Aida Edemariam interviewed Dame Anne Owens, the chief inspector of prisons in the UK. Dame Anne's report noted that UK immigration removal centres sedate detainees without consent, use force unnecessarily and detain children for more than 28 days in short term holding facilities.

The world is struggling with economic refugees, refugees from war, famine and persecution. Certainly, in the Caribbean, many of the insular islands are struggling with fellow CARICOM nationals who are migrating from one territory to another, whether it's the DR, the Bahamas, Antigua or Barbados.

We can barely manage the current migration of people around the world - how will we deal with this new kind of migrant, the climigrant?


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