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Climate change, disaster, displacement and migration: initial evidence from Africa

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In its First Assessment Report in 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that the gravest effects of climate change may be those on human mobility. Over the last year, some progress has been made within both the academic and the humanitarian policy community in seeking answers to some basic questions arising from this issue, such as how and where people are displaced, who and how many are displaced, and how (if at all) they are protected. In parallel, work has been done to highlight this issue in the climate change negotiations. (1)

The 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provides the common international framework to address the causes and consequences of climate change. In 2007, the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC authoritatively established that human-induced climate change is accelerating and already has severe impacts on the environment and human lives. (2)

Although there is not a mono-causal relation between climate change, disasters, displacement and migration, the existence of a clear link between the phenomena is increasingly recognised. (3) This paper presents some initial empirical findings in relation to this link, focusing on two African countries: Somalia and Burundi.