Refugees &
Internal Displacement



Gulf Cooperation Council
Network for Drylands Research & Development

شبكة دول
مجلس التعاون الخليجي لدراسات

الأراضي القاحلة و التطوير

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Refugees & Internal Displacement

According to the "Natural Heritage Institute" there is a strong correlation between migration, poverty and environmental degradation. The natural resources in and around the cities and refugee camps, in which human beings have settled, have already been over utilized. In addition, difficult living conditions as well as the absence of cultural identity undermine social stability. Research presented at that time stated that alone in 1994 approximately half of the 100 armed conflicts had environmental causal factors characteristic of drylands. Consistent with the study, violence has been induced by mass migration of people, who have had no choice but to leave their lands in search of other livelihoods once their land become degraded and lost productivity, exposing them to the risk of conflicts with the established populations in the new lands. This proves that the environmental push element for migrations triggered by environmental scarcity is hidden behind ethnic or socio economic considerations.3


2 Cf.. UNCCD (eds.): Hintergrundinformation: 17. Juni - Welttag für die Bekämpfung von Wüstenbildung und Dürre, 2003. Retrieved 05.09.2005, from

3 C.f. i.a. Lamping, H. / Lamping, G., Naturkatastrophen, Heidelberg, 1995.



Environmental Refugees:

The term "Environmental Refugee" first defined by El-Hinnawi in the year 1985 in a report for the UNEP as: "…those people who have been forced to leave their traditional habitat, temporarily or permanently, because of a marked environmental disruption (natural and/or triggered by people) that jeopardized their existence and/or seriously affected the quality of their life" would be more appropriate in this context. Nevertheless according to international law environmental refugees are yet an undefined dimension. Since the Geneva Convention on Refugees from 1951 does not recognize environmental degradation as a legitimate reason for flight, it contains no explicit clause to acknowledge their plight. Disregarding this fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations scientific body responsible for reviewing the causes and impact of climate change, forecasts 150 million environmental refugees by 2050.

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