Medical &Health

Migration to escalate in South Asia: Study

People in South Asia have witnessed more devastation this year than any time before because of extreme weather events that pushed many to embrace internal migration to cities from coasts, according to a study published globally today.

The study "Climate Change Knows No Borders" says cyclone 'Roanu', in May, ripped through Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh causing widespread damage and leaving an estimated reconstruction costs at $1.7 billion.

The study, done by ActionAid, Climate Action Network South Asia and Bread for the World, reports that climate induced displacement and migration are a regular and increasing phenomenon in Bangladesh.

The three international organisations warn of the devastating and increasing impact of climate change on migration as policy makers converge on Bangladesh for the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Dhaka tomorrow.

It says Asia and the Pacific saw more than 42 million people displaced by extreme weather events during 2010-11 and 15 million people in Bangladesh alone could be displaced by climate change by 2050. Climate-induced migration and displacement is therefore becoming a key emerging area in climate discourse, according to a press release of ActionAid Dhaka Office.

Farah Kabir, Country Director ActionAid Bangladesh says, "Displacement and forced migration is a real and ever-concerning problem for Bangladesh. There's an urgent need for women and girls to have access to reliable information on the risks around migration and how women can access support to protect themselves."

In April 2016 temperatures reached a record 51 degrees in Rajasthan, India. Across India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, 2015-16 brought with extended drought and crop failure, affecting 330 million people in India alone and many more across the region, says the press release.

Report shows migration is taking place as a result of crop failure, rising sea levels and flooding associated to global warming. In some cases this is exacerbated by trans-boundary water management issues.

Sudden events such as cyclones and flooding can lead to temporary displacement. However if these events happen repeatedly, people lose their savings and assets, and may eventually be forced to move to cities or abroad to find work.

In some communities in Bangladesh, women face social pressure not to leave the house, making life incredibly difficult if their husbands have left to find work. In other areas, women report much higher exposure to assault and violence.

The report claims that policies are currently failing to understand the scale and impact of migration on women, and are failing to address emerging issues. Promotion of women's empowerment, as well as women-led planning and disaster response, must be part of the solution.

The report outlines the growing and alarming trend of women and girls trafficked into sexual exploitation as a result of migration, as well as the burden placed upon women at home whose husbands are forced to migrate.

Sanjay Vashist, Climate Action Network South Asia's Director, said, "The governments of South Asia must recognize that climate change knows no borders. Governments have a responsibility to use our shared mountains, rivers, history and cultures to seek common solutions to the droughts, sea-level rise and water shortages that the region is increasingly experiencing."

"We urgently need more cross-border efforts to help people cope up with the onslaught of climate change", he said.

The study looks at climate change and its impacts on migration in South Asia- Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka in particular- which experiences droughts, heat waves, cyclones, rising sea levels, heavy rainfall, landslides and floods.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC AR5) anticipates that these are likely to be felt more severely in future, says ActionAid.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)