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Syria’s woes paint picture of environmental migration to come

An article in AlertNet by Jacob Park entitled “Climate Conversations – Syria’s woes paint picture of environmental migration to come” outlines the devastating drought that has gripped Syria since 2006 and reportedly driven more than 1.5 million people from the countryside to cities in search for food and economic normality, a rarely reported issue against the backdrop of ongoing political unrest in Syria.

The situation in Syria, says Park, is in many ways a microcosm of an issue that the international community will be confronting in the future: what can be done about migration and other related complex humanitarian problems brought on by climate change and water scarcity concerns?

The International Organisation for Migration estimates that there are now several million “environmental migrants” worldwide, and that this “number will rise to tens of millions within the next 20 years, or hundreds of millions within the next 50 years”.

Many questions exist about climate change- and resource scarcity-induced human migration, including whether migrants displaced by climate change deserve different or special legal protection under international law.

The modern conception of what subsequently became known as climate change-induced migration and displacement began in the mid-1970s, with a publication on global population co-authored by Lester Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute.

The ACT session on population displacement is scheduled for 2013, and will study urgent considerations for Canada and other countries likely to become hosts to refugees or displaced people within their own borders, including policy issues such as governance, employment impacts, community services, health care and housing.

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