Hurricanes Eta and Iota, the category 4 hurricanes that devastated Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala within two weeks during November 2020, contributed towards a major influx of immigrants seeking asylum at the United States’ Southern border – and the experts are now saying that, as weather conditions become more volatile, the climate refugee crisis will be getting far worse.
Eta and Iota displaced 5.3 million people in the region, with people losing their homes, jobs, possessions and access to basic services such as running water.
“Many families have nothing to go back to and are now left with little options to survive,” Laurent Duvillier, a spokesperson for the Latin America and Caribbean regional office of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), an organization which provides humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide said, as reported by Newsweek.
“Unless more humanitarian support is provided to Central American countries affected by these tropical storms, unless conditions are created in communities for people to be able to stay, it is expected that more families will migrate north in search for a better future for their children.”
According to projections released in September 2020 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), hurricanes and tropical storms are expected to become more frequent and powerful. And this report is only for hurricanes, with several other extreme weather patterns such as drought also affecting Latin and South America, and also contributing towards an even higher influx of immigrants who will be migrating in search of food and water.
In fact, by 2050, it is expected that as many as 1.5 billion people worldwide will be climate refugees. However, Reuters foreign correspondent, Deborah Zabarenko reports that the industrialised nations who contributed more towards carbon emissions need to use their power to aid the “global south”, who will be disproportionately impacted by the erratic climate.
According to a December 2019 report published by the Global Carbon Project (GCP), which quantifies global greenhouse gas emissions and their causes, the United States has released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other country.
However, while many developed nations have entered an agreement to make provisions for the impeding climate refugee crisis, the Global Compact on Refugees, a non-legally binding agreement, the United States is not a signatory, with former President Donald Trump opting not to be a signatory when the agreement was finalised at the end of 2018.