Athlete Refugee Dominic Lokinyomo: ‘I want to be the first refugee to get a medal’

Dominic Lokinyomo in Asaba

Dominic Lokinyomo was eight when his family fled the violence of Sudan’s civil war, and not yet nine when they were separated. To help dull the pain of that separation, he took up sport and began to run. That early passion eventually landed him at the UNHCR KENYA-sponsored Tegla Loroupe Training Camp for Athlete Refugees… Continue reading Athlete Refugee Dominic Lokinyomo: ‘I want to be the first refugee to get a medal’

Ukuk Utho’o Bul and Paulo Amotun Lokoro, Athlete Refugee Team

Ukuk Utho'o Bul and Paulo Amotun Lokoro

Ukuk Utho’o Bul and Paulo Amotun Lokoro, members of the Athlete Refugee Team, or ART, in Valencia, Spain, this weekend where they competed in the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. Both were in their early teens when they fled the civil war in Sudan, and both spent nearly a dozen years at a UNHCR-run refugee… Continue reading Ukuk Utho’o Bul and Paulo Amotun Lokoro, Athlete Refugee Team

Figures released on Monday by The International Organization for Migration (IOM) indicate that while the number of refugees and migrants entering Europe by sea have decreased sharply over the past year, the rate of deaths en route has risen dramatically.

While arrivals in Europe have decreased by 56 percent in the first nine months of the year, the number of deaths has dropped by just 26 percent, from 3,686 last year to 2,754 this year.

The press release in full, republished without further comment is below.

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Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 140,538 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 8 October, with over 75 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece, Cyprus and Spain. This compares with 318,207 arrivals across the region through the same period last year.

IOM Rome reported on Monday (9 October) that official figures from the Italian Ministry of the Interior show 107,028 migrants arrived by sea to Italy this year, almost 26 per cent fewer than last year in the same period, when 144,445 migrants arrived by sea.

IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo reported that Sunday a Tunisian military ship collided with a vessel carrying around 70 migrants in the Maltese search and rescue area, 54 km from the island of Kerkennah (governorate of Sfax). According to Italian media, the migrants – all, apparently, Tunisian – left Tunisia from Kerkennah. The collision caused the craft to sink. Maltese authorities coordinated rescue operations carried out by the Italian Coast Guard and Italian Navy, who confirmed 46 survivors with remains of eight persons recovered. By Monday evening the estimate of those missing remained 20.

Di Giacomo provided the following statistics on Tunisian migration by sea to Italy, which appears to be increasing over previous years. He reported 1,637 Tunisians arrived by sea in Italy in 2014, then 880 the following year and 1,200 last year. During the first eight months of 2017, Di Giacomo reported, 1,357 migrants from Tunisia arrived in Italy, or more than all of 2016. In September, at least another 1,400 arrived.

“It’s a new trend, but I wouldn’t call it a consequence of the recent ‘closing’ of the Libyan route, because the nationalities are different,” Di Giacomo explained.

“In addition to the estimated 1,400 Tunisian migrants registered in September, we should also consider that there have been many cases where migrants arrived in Sicily and succeeded in disappearing before being intercepted by the police. So, the number is higher, but we cannot say how many,” he added.

IOM Libya’s Christine Petré reported that IOM has continued its emergency response in Sabratah, where in the aftermath of weeks of conflict in the Libyan coastal city of Sabratah, at least 4,000 migrants – many previously held in numerous informal detention centres and camps – have been transferred to a hangar in the city’s Dahman area, where IOM is providing emergency assistance.

Sabratah, approximately 80 kilometres west of Tripoli, is one of the main departure points for migrant boats attempting to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

On 7 October, a day after the first transfer of migrants, IOM sent a field team to the hangar to assess the situation. By the end of the day, the team reported that 2,600 migrants (1,819 men, 704 women and 77 children) were being kept at the site by the Libyan Directorate for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM). More migrants from other locations in Sabratah were later transferred to the hangar and more are anticipated to arrive soon.

IOM this week is providing assistance at the assembly point, including psychosocial support. At the same time three critical medical cases received ambulance transfer to a medical clinic and additional migrants were treated for minor injuries.

IOM fears that the number of migrants affected by recent developments in Sabratah will continue to rise. Throughout the day migrants have arrived both in Zuwara and Sabratah, some of whom have walked for hours. This week IOM has received reports of some 2,000 migrants travelling by foot from Sabratah to Zuwara and are now also in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

Some of the current identified needs include milk and diapers for babies, and water and food. IOM’s emergency food intervention in Sabratah continues.

IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported that arrivals to Spain for the month of September totalled 1,004, about half the level for August. The total arrivals for 2017 have now reached 12,328 through 9 October. At this time last year, Spain saw a total of 5,445 migrants arriving by sea.

IOM Athens’ Kelly Namia on Monday reported four incidents off the islands of Lesvos and Chios that required search and rescue operations. The Hellenic Coast Guard brought 153 migrants and transferred them to the respective islands.

Namia further reported that migrant sea arrivals to Greek territory totalled 822 for the first seven days of October, and 20,364 for the year so far.

Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) has recorded 4,590 migrant fatalities in 2017. In the Central Mediterranean, at least 8 people drowned and an estimated 20 migrants are missing* after a boat carrying dozens collided with a navy vessel off Tunisia’s southeast coast on 8 October. These deaths bring the total of fatalities in the Mediterranean in 2017 to 2,754.

Since the last update, MMP recorded another incident in Southeast Asia: 13 migrants died, including 11 children, and at least 18 are still missing* after a boat carrying Rohingya migrants capsized in the Naf River, also on 8 October. Nearly six weeks into a mass exodus of people fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, dozens have died while fleeing to Bangladesh: IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded 172 fatalities on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border since 31 August 2017.

Additionally, MMP recorded the deaths of four migrants on the US-Mexico border: one migrant died in Kenedy County, Texas on 6 September; another was found dead in Starr County, Texas on 1 October; one young man was hit by a vehicle in the Interstate 8 near Jacumba, California, on August 25; and the body of one migrant was found inside a tractor trailer at the US Border Patrol Falfurrias Checkpoint on 6 October.

In Mexico, the remains of another migrant were found near train tracks in Saltillo, Coahuila, on 8 October.

*When deaths occur at sea, Missing Migrants Project often relies on the estimates of survivors once they are rescued, with the lowest estimate of missing persons always used in the dataset.

 

Republished with permission from The Climate News Network under a Creative Commons (CC BY-ND 4.0) license. Posted in its entirety for informational purposes without comment.

by Tim Radford

Climate change in the form of sustained drought is not to blame for the bloody and prolonged conflict in Syria, according to a new study.

But drought nevertheless plays a contributing role in creating the conditions for conflict – and a database of 1,800 riots over a cycle of 21 years delivers the evidence to support that hypothesis, according to a second study.

The idea that climate change, with consequential drought and famine in its wake, can drive conflict and topple kingdoms, empires and civilisations is not a new one: climate change has been identified as a factor in the fall of the ancient Assyrian empire and the fall of the Mayan civilisation, and the recent drought in the eastern Mediterranean has been identified as the worst in 900 years.

No evidence

But, scientists in the UK argue in the journal Political Geography, there is no evidence to support climate change as a factor in the Syrian civil war.

This is an argument not likely to be settled by any one study. Researchers in the last three years have repeatedly warned that climate is likely to be a contributing factor to civil conflict or violence in some cases simply because hot weather and short tempers seemed statistically linked, in others because prolonged drought turns farmers and herdsmen into climate refugees.

And the flight from the land has been linked with the beginning of civil unrest in Syrian cities. This argument has been invoked by, among others, former US President Obama, Prince Charles of Great Britain, the World Bank and Friends of the Earth.

Not so, say the scholars in Political Geography. They argue that though the drought was severe, it was not necessarily caused by man-made climate change driven by profligate combustion of fossil fuels, and that although drought contributed to migration to the cities, this would have involved not 1.5 million people but no more than 60,000 families. Economic liberalisation in any case may have been the more important factor, they say.

“Droughts are a factor that add fuel to flames that are already burning”

“Our paper finds that there is no sound evidence that global climate change was a factor in sparking the Syrian civil war. Indeed, it is extraordinary that this claim has become so widely accepted when the scientific evidence for it is so thin,” said Jan Selby, who directs the Centre for Conflict and Security Research at Sussex University in the UK.

“Global climate change is a very real challenge, and will undoubtedly have significant conflict and security consequences, but there is no good evidence that this is what was going on in this case.

“It is vital that experts, commentators and policymakers resist the temptation to make exaggerated claims about the conflict implications of climate change. Overblown claims not based on rigorous science only risk fuelling climate scepticism.”

Link persists

But the link between climate and violence remains. European researchers report in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management that they studied the pattern of rioting recorded in sub-Saharan Africa between 1990 and 2011, and found a systematic link between sudden depletion of water resources and the outbreak of unrest.

They used statistical reasoning to find that droughts raised the risk of rioting from 10% to 50% in a given month in any region. There were other factors: density of population, the presence of lakes and rivers and the local ethnic mix could all contribute to the probabilities of conflict. That did not mean that droughts “cause” conflict.

“In order of importance, it is political, economic or social causes that create tension,” said Jérémy Lucchetti, a professor in the University of Geneva’s economics and management faculty, who led the study.

“Droughts are a factor that add fuel to flames that are already burning.” – Climate News Network, 11 October 2017


Tim Radford, a founding editor of Climate News Network, worked for The Guardian for 32 years, for most of that time as science editor. He has been covering climate change since 1988.

 

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It was good to be pointed towards this CBS News segment this morning, which I quite frankly wasn’t expecting. And that for two reasons: that the struggles of climate refugees are being covered at all by a major US network and that they’d actually send a correspondent to a place as remote as Kiribati. Maybe I’ve been out of the US for too long.

Below are two pieces. From reporter Seth Doane’s intro on the residents of the small archipelago of about 100,000:

Their “carbon footprints” are among the lowest in the world. These are not people who travel by air or drive gas-guzzling vehicles. For many, on this remote island in Kiribati, electricity is a luxury. They’re not the big carbon polluters but they’re the ones who’ll be among the first to have their lives disrupted by climate change through rising sea levels and extreme weather.

Originally aired on 21 August 2017.

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Republished with permission from The Climate News Network under a Creative Commons (CC BY-ND 4.0) license. Posted in its entirety for informational purposes without comment.

by Tim Radford

By 2060, around 1.4 bn people could be climate refugees, driven from low-lying coastal cities by sea level rise. By 2100, as the global population may have reached 11bn, there could be 2bn climate refugees.

To feed those 9 to 11 bn people expected in the second half of the century, farmers will have to grow as much food in 40 years as they have grown in the last 8,000 or so.

And in a world of accelerating sea level rise and climate change, in which farmland is being degraded and turned to desert, in which ever more land is set aside for carbon storage in the form of forest, and in which the strains of survival increase social divisions and social conflict, there is a new challenge: where will the 2bn climate refugees find new homes?

“The colliding forces of human fertility, submerging coastal zones, residential retreat, and impediments to inland resettlement are a huge problem,” said Charles Geisler, professor emeritus of development sociology at Cornell University, in New York state.

“We offer preliminary estimates of the lands unlikely to support new waves of climate refugees due to the residues of war, exhausted natural resources, declining net primary productivity, desertification, urban sprawl, land concentration, ‘paving the planet’ with roads, and greenhouse gas storage zones offsetting permafrost melt.”

“Although reclaiming land from oceans has been an important human project for millennia, it seems that oceans are now ‘reclaiming’ the land”

In any concerted attempts to contain climate change and limit global warming, climate scientists have to consider two big things. One is: how to drastically reduce fossil fuel use. The other is: how to use the land surface so that it takes up atmospheric carbon dioxide most efficiently.

Professor Geisler and his co-author Ben Currens, an earth and environmental scientist at the University of Kentucky, look at the big picture of land use in the long term.

They report in the journal Land Use Policy that they considered the implications of an ever faster rate of global sea level rise, as atmospheric temperatures warm and glaciers melt.

A study in Nature Climate Change has just confirmed that the seas that in the last century were rising by on average 2.2mm a year are now rising by 3.3mm a year. “Although reclaiming land from oceans has been an important human project for millennia,” write Geisler and Currens in their study, “it seems that oceans are now ‘reclaiming’ the land.”

They start from the premise that global mean sea level rise will continue beyond 2100, and from the prediction that for every 1°C of climate warming, humans should expect an eventual 2.3 metre rise in sea levels.

Losing land

In 2000, around 630 million people lived in low-lying coastal zones. By 2060, this number could have risen to 1.4bn. In the worst case scenario, the two scientists reason, almost all who dwell on the low-lying coasts will become climate refugees.

But the land that could be used to resettle those refugees is dwindling: between 1981 and 2003, around 35 million square kilometres of the planet became “degraded” and now make up almost one fourth of the world’s drylands.

Permafrost, described in the study as “a vast and cost-free warehouse” for greenhouse gases, is thawing: as it melts, it could double the current levels of atmospheric carbon and feed back into ever-faster climate change.

Were global forests to be planted in a bid to absorb this extra carbon, they would take up more than 42 million sq km or 28% of the planet’s land surface.

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No entry

The two scientists then considered the barriers that climate refugees could face as they moved from the coasts. They defined what they called depletion zones – drylands, thawing permafrost and degraded land – that would be unlikely to support human existence. They identified what they call “win-lose” zones that because of urban sprawl, landfill needs and mushrooming roadways could help in some ways but not in others.

And they listed a set of what they call “no trespass zones”, from which refugees would be excluded either legally, or by violence, or by the risk of landmines or radioactive pollution.

They considered case studies, in China and in Florida in the US, where state officials have begun to plan for weather-induced population shifts.

And, although President Trump has declared climate change a hoax and is to take the US out of the Paris Agreement of 2015 in which the world’s nations undertook to reduce fossil fuel use and contain global warming to less than 2°C, the two authors think there is no other answer.

“The pressure is on us to contain greenhouse gas emissions at present levels. It’s the best ‘future proofing’ against climate change, sea level rise and the catastrophic consequences likely to play out on coasts, as well as inland, in the future,” said Professor Geisler. – Climate News Network


Tim Radford, a founding editor of Climate News Network, worked for The Guardian for 32 years, for most of that time as science editor. He has been covering climate change since 1988.

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From the 19 April 2017 NY Times Magazine “Climate Issue”. In this piece, Jessica Benko describes the correlation between climate change and human turmoil. The intro:

Climate change is not equally felt across the globe, and neither are its longer term consequences. This map overlays human turmoil — represented here by United Nations data on nearly 64 million “persons of concern,” whose numbers have tripled since 2005 — with climate turmoil, represented by data from NASA’s Common Sense Climate Index. The correlation is striking. Climate change is a threat multiplier: It contributes to economic and political instability and also worsens the effects. It propels sudden-onset disasters like floods and storms and slow-onset disasters like drought and desertification; those disasters contribute to failed crops, famine and overcrowded urban centers; those crises inflame political unrest and worsen the impacts of war, which leads to even more displacement.

More.

A dispatch from Shishmaref, Alaska, a village of about 600 on Sarichef Island just south of the Arctic Circle where climate change is forcing villagers to confront the very serious prospect of relocation. It’s one of 30 Alaska villages immediately threatened by erosion and flooding linked to Climate Change, according to a 2009 government report.

“This island is done,” said one resident. “Climate Change refugees are what we’re going to become in the next few decades.”

Runtime 6min18sec. Originally aired on 29 March 2017. Related report.

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IOM: 2016 Deadliest Year Ever on Mediterranean Migrant Crossing Route

Asylum seeker, Ljubljana, Slovenia, February 2016

An asylum-seeker watches a pro-migrant rally in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in February 2016. I was reminded of this rally this morning when reading the following press release from the International Organisation for Migration, issued on Friday, reporting that the number of migrants dying while trying to cross the Mediterranean has increased sharply this year over 2015,… Continue reading IOM: 2016 Deadliest Year Ever on Mediterranean Migrant Crossing Route