Former Bangladesh Foreign Minister predicts soaring crime rates as impacts of global warming hit countries.
Climate change will cause an increase in drug smuggling, human trafficking and gun running, as “merchants of gloom” take advantage of desperate migrants fleeing across borders.
If sea levels rise, rainfall becomes more unpredictable and harvests fail in countries acutely vulnerable to changing climatic conditions, he predicts a rise in crime as more and more people seek to cross borders into neighbouring states.
Migration due to climate change could cause problems to state security as criminals take advantage of desperate migrants who are competing for healthcare, education and other resources in already overpopulated countries.
“Security does not mean conflict,” he told RTCC. “The moment you transport a person, there is a security issue. Are you having drugs moving across your border? Are you trafficking a human person? Are you doing gun running? It would have a serious security context for the states involved.”
The absence of any legal recognition for climate migrants makes such a situation appear all the more likely. The 1951 Refugee Convention contains no protection for those who have been displaced due to climate change.
In November last year, a man from the low lying Pacific island state of Kiribati lost his bid in a New Zealand court to become the world’s first official climate refugee. “Without state support, the problem risks going underground,” says Quayes.
As the problem of climate change worsens, the number of people looking to leave their homes will increase. Today, the UN predicts there are a total of 214 million migrants across the world, including those who have moved for social and political reasons.
A report by Christian Aid predicts that a further one billion people could become climate change migrants between now and 2050. Some of the movement will be seasonal, as people move from certain regions in the dry season or times of excessive rainfall.
Quayes said that leaders will fail to provide legal protection to the millions forced to flee their homes due to climate change if they continue to view the problem as merely a humanitarian crisis.
“People respond better when they see that an issue will impact security,” he said. “Climate induced displacement needs to be seen from the perspective of security so people see a need to act.”
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