Recently, in the last five years or so, there has been an increasing attention to persons who have been displaced by disasters. Either sudden onset such as earthquakes, or hurricanes, or slow onset such as rising sea water or drought.
The term ‘climigrants’ has been coined to refer to these persons.
Estimates from the so called IDMC, Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, which is one of the few that actually have numbers for these things.
They indicate that 42 million people were newly displaced by sudden-onset disasters, the majority of those weather-related disasters in 2010.
The numbers fluctuate from year to year, and methodologies are as yet being developed, making projections very unstable.
For example, estimates from different organizations for 2015 vary between 50 million and 1 billion. That makes any kind of action rather difficult to plan.
But this is an area which could potentially have great impact on future global health and what we do to protect.
It will be a question, not only of what numbers are displaced but also the conditions to which they move.
For example, this is a photo from Cotonou in Benin showing recent migrants who are settling in rather vulnerable housing close to the water.
Where they are exposed to flow onset rises in the water levels, as well as sudden-onset storms.
Where those who are more fortunate live in safer housing up the hill, when considering the health of migrants, it’s very important to recognize the great differences which exist among different groups of migrants.
And this is also reflected in their health conditions, as well as in the possibilities which we have to address their health. It’s also important to note that data on migrants are particularly challenging and difficult to assemble. It’s just difficult to count somebody who has left.
And there is great need for further research into the field.
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University of Copenhague Lectures