12 Feb Desertification and Migration: A Political Ecology of Environmental Migration in West Africa
Desertification and Migration: A Political Ecology of Environmental Migration in West Africa
Unruh, John D.
Krol, Marteens S.
Environmental Change and Its Implications for Population Migration
“While Africans constitute only 12 per cent of the global population, around 28 per cent (i.e. 3.2 million) of the world’s 11.5 million refugees and just under 50 per cent (i.e. 9.5 million) of the world’s internally displaced persons are to be found in Africa. The total number of displaced Africans thus stands in the region of 12.7 million. To this number can be added more than two million returnees, who, according to UNHCR, have not been able to reintegrate in their country of origin and who continue to need some form of international protection and assistance.” (Crisp 2000: 2)
These numbers do not include the so-called “economic refugees” and the “environmental refugees”. Unfortunately, it can be assumed that Africa will also maintain its world records in these categories of refugees, at least concerning the population size (Richter 1998). For decades, Africa has been the “continent of refugees” (Nuscheler 1988). Africa’s refugee drama conceals not only a wide set of conflicts, disasters and human suffering, but also a wider displacement problem: the migration phenomenon. The mostly short-term refugee phenomenon offers spectacular stuff for the media, but the normally mid- and long-term migration problem is much more important for the societies involved. In general, the short-term events constitute only the obvious tip of the iceberg: refugee movements are often an indication of larger population displacements. This is especially valid for the environmentally motivated displacements in West Africa and the Sahel region, to which the following reflections refer.
Hammer, T. (2004). Desertification and Migration: A Political Ecology of Environmental Migration in West Africa. In J. D. Unruh, M. S. Krol, & N. Kliot (Eds.), Environmental Change and Its Implications for Population Migration. Dordrecht : Kluwer. URL : http://www.springerlink.com/content/n1362443r04x6152/