The link between climate change and the immigration crisis in the Mediterranean
The dangers that climate change brings and the need to help those who try to cross the Mediterranean are interlinked.
Many are concerned that when they discuss the link between migration and the climate crisis, racism will continue to increase and border control policies will get tighter. The fact is that racism and harsh border security policies already exist.
Climate change adds to the reasons people leave their native land, including socioeconomic conditions or political oppression. In circumstances where people already struggle to survive, climate change intensifies the pressure through rising sea levels, food scarcity, damage caused by storms or crop failure. The people who live in the most disadvantaged places on this Earth, and who are not to blame for climate change, are the first to experience its impact.
In the next few years, thousands of people will be forced to leave their country to avoid environmental conditions that may get worse in time. So far, many people are emigrating locally, from rural zones to urban zones, or they are going to neighbouring countries. Only the few are travelling long distances. These are ending up in the middle of the sea, finding themselves a few kilometres off the shore of countries that are partially responsible for the worrisome state of the environment and for the type of politics that they are following.
The rhetoric of the Far Right is increasing in substance in powerful countries, particularly in Europe. This has terrible consequences for those who are affected, like those persons who end up drowning in the Mediterranean. Some politicians justify these horrible conditions on the basis of the fact that they act as a deterrent to people who are thinking of coming to Europe. However, the number of immigrants and refugees that keep coming suggests that this strategy is not working.
A United Nations report on poverty and human rights recently warned about a future where the poor will suffer the worst consequences of climate change while the rich live detached from such worries. The report concludes on a negative note, warning that human rights could be eroded. The fear of most of us is that this future vision where injustice reigns supreme can become a reality.
In the world we are living in there are those who either contribute to the disaster or take advantage of it to gain wealth and power. The climate crisis will create disasters that lead authoritarian leaders to take the reins in their own hands. We have to do all we can to stop them from dominating the scene in Europe. Nothing will change if our support is passive – we all need to act to create a better future for ourselves, our children and the generations to come.