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30 November 2015

Human Mobility in a Changing Climate: Time for Action is Now

By IOM Director General William Lacy Swing

With some one billion people on the move around the world, we are confronted daily with human tragedies brought about by major migration movements. The imminent and long-term effects of climate change compound these tragedies.

Climate change is impacting a record number of people, forcing them to migrate either within their own countries or across international borders. The effects of climate change -- intertwined with those of wars, social unrest and entrenched poverty -- exacerbate human insecurity at the global level.  Least developed countries are most affected as they have fewer resources with which to adapt.

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From Papua New Guinea, a Climate Migrant’s Story

Already in her 70s, Rufina Moi was forced to leave the Carteret Islands, Papua New Guinea, two years ago. A number of factors influenced her decision to leave behind her home, with the main one being land degradation: the declining area of land available to cultivate due to high population growth and sea-level rise. Losing her land presented problems she felt she could only deal with by leaving.

In addition to the decline in cultivable land, poor access to government services was a major push factor for Rufina to move as she highlighted the remoteness of her home and the associated poor transport networks. Since she relocated to Buka, Rufina has not returned to the island, although she has expressed her undying desire to one day return to her homeland.

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© IOM/Alessandro Grassani 2015
Migration as an Adaptation Strategy to Climate Change

By Dina Ionesco and Mariam Traore Chazalnoel

Increasingly, as attention is being devoted to the human mobility and climate nexus, we hear more and more calls from various actors – from states to civil society and academia to design and implement policies for climate adaptation that include a migration component. The sheer diversity of viewpoints on this topic reflects the universality of this concern and brings to the fore very tangible questions: what are the linkages between migration and adaptation and what can be concretely done to bridge climate and migration policy to support national adaptation efforts to climate change?

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Ahead of COP21 Intended Nationally Determined Contributions Take Stock of Human Mobility Questions

What are INDCs?

Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) are very much talked about as we approach the opening of COP21, one of the largest global conferences ever held. INDCs form the basis of states’ engagement to support the expected legally binding global climate agreement; and the submitted contributions reflect national commitments to achieve global climate objectives on reducing CO2 emissions.

- See more at:

What are INDCs?

Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) are very much talked about as we approach the opening of COP21, one of the largest global conferences ever held. INDCs form the basis of states’ engagement to support the expected legally binding global climate agreement; and the submitted contributions reflect national commitments to achieve global climate objectives on reducing CO2 emissions.

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Quote of the day

"Turning migration challenges into opportunities for all requires good migration governance; a broad, durable consensus among a wide constituency; coherent, coordinated policies among partners."  – IOM Director General William Lacy Swing. More here



President of Kiribati speaks on Climate Change Migration at the #IOMCouncil2015

On the occasion of his country becoming a member state of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), President Anote Tong of Kiribati, last week, addressed the 106th IOM Council in Geneva, Switzerland. In his keynote address, President Tong outlined the stark reality facing his nation due to climate change. Watch his address here.

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Environmental Change, Natural Disasters and Human Mobility in Haiti

The film captures some of the environmental challenges that Haiti is facing. It shows the measures people have taken to adapt to the changing environment. These include changing their housing materials, changes in agricultural practices, remittances invested in adaptation measures, and moving to other areas in Haiti or to other countries. Watch the video here.

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Regional Maps Showing Migration, Environment and Climate Change

The increase in global average air and sea temperatures, the prevalent melting of snow and ice, the intensification and high variability of extreme weather events, the acidification of the oceans, and the rising average global sea levels all bear witness to climate change.

Climate change affects all regions of the world, but its regional and local impacts are uneven, and hard to predict accurately. The local effects and vulnerability of populations will depend greatly on local exposure, development and adaptive capacity, future demographic and economic changes, as well as on mitigation and adaptation policies that will or will not be undertaken in the coming years.

The following maps illustrate some of the most prominent regional changes that are already taking place around the globe and their impacts on humans and ecosystems. The observed and emerging patterns of the changing climate already affect human mobility across the globe through slow-onset processes of environmental and ecosystem change, and through sudden-onset extreme weather events, exacerbating socio-economic vulnerabilities.

To view the maps and find more information, go to:

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Migration in the News

  • Toronto Star reported that Canada’s newly opened refugee processing centre in Jordan aims to process 500 people a day, and will eventually become the hub of much of Canada’s Syrian refugee resettlement program.
  • International Business Times reported that Iranians and other refugees protesting over being barred entry into Macedonia and other Balkan countries face torture and death in their home countries, despite claims by authorities that they are economic migrants.

  • BBC reported that clashes have been reported at the Macedonian border between stranded migrants and police. A number of Iranian men have sewn their lips shut in protest at not being allowed to continue their journey to Europe.

  • Al Jazeera reported that at least six children have drowned in two separate incidents when boats carrying refugees to Greece sank off Turkey's coast.

  • The Economist reported that during the onset of winter the number of migrants making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean normally drops, but this year has been different.

  • Xinhua and Wall Street Journal reported that the European Union (EU) clinched an agreement with Turkey on Sunday, offering EUR 3 billion in aid and accelerated consideration of Turkish EU membership, in exchange for a massive reduction in the number of irregular migrants arriving in Europe.

  • EFE reported that over 110,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Greece by sea since the start of November, citing IOM figures.

  • Huffington Post reported that refugees in Greece will face additional challenges as the harsh winter weather sets in.

  • AP reported that Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks has called for refugees to be resettled in Europe directly from camps near conflict zones, to prevent them from enduring long, dangerous and unnecessary journeys.  

  • Turkey’s Haberler reported that some 222 refugees were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard off the Ayvalik coast of Turkey's western Balikesir province on Sunday.

  • AFP  reported that the Ethiopian government, in partnership with IOM and Malawi, has repatriated 224 irregular Ethiopian migrants detained in Malawi for unauthorized entry.

  • Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror reported that President Maithripala Sirisena has invited IOM to host a global consultation in Sri Lanka on the lessons learnt in advancing the health of migrants.

Trending on the Internet

  • European Journalism Observatory reported that Western European newspapers became significantly more sympathetic towards migrants and refugees immediately after photographs of a drowned boy on a Turkish beach were published at the beginning of September, but within one week most had reverted to their original editorial position. By the end of the month all were less positive than at the beginning.

  • The Guardian reported that hosting a refugee earns Italian landlords EUR 35 a day from the State. But asylum seekers report being left without gas, water and food.

Media Contacts
For comment / interviews on today's news, please go to the contact(s) listed at the end of each press briefing note.

Leonard Doyle
Ph: +41 22 717 95 89
M: +41 79 285 71 23
Skype: leonard.doyle
Geneva GMT +2
Itayi Viriri
Ph: +41 22 717.9361
M: +41 79 285.4366
Skype: itayi.viriri
Geneva GMT +2
Joel Millman
Ph: +41 22 717 9486
M: +41 79 103 87 20
Skype: Joel.millman2
Geneva GMT +2
Joe Lowry
Ph: +66 2 343 9430
M: +66 81 870 8081
Skype: Joelowry
Bangkok GMT +7
Chris Lom
Ph: +63 2 230 1612
M: +63 917 8908785
Skype: chris_lom
Manila GMT +8