The top countries of origin of the migrants who came to Italy in 2021 were countries particularly hard hit by climate-linked phenomena such as prolonged drought and extreme flooding, according to a new study by the Rome-based IDOS Study and Research Center.
Climate change is increasingly a reason why migrants who arrive in Italy left their homelands, the Rome-based IDOS Study and Research Center said in its 2022 migration report, which was published on Monday (October 24).
Climate migrants are not given refugee status in Italy and the European Union, the report noted.
"Climate injustice and social injustice are merging and migration is becoming the only adaptation strategy available for those who have no other alternative in order to flee poverty in all its forms," said IDOS President Luca Di Sciullo, adding that preventing conflict is not sufficient to resolve the issue of forced migration.
"It is also necessary to learn to live in a more sustainable way with our planet, turning the current development model on its head and thinking practically about the right to migrate," he said.
Top countries of origin affected by climate change
The report, prepared in collaboration with the Confronti study center and the 'S.Pio V' Political Studies Institute, said that the top countries of origin of the migrants who came to Italy in 2021 were countries particularly affected by climate-linked phenomena such as prolonged drought and extreme flooding. These countries included Tunisia, Egypt, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Syria, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Guinea, Pakistan and Iran.
Some of these countries have experienced severe droughts interspersed with floods because of a rise in average temperatures; consequent famines have starved tens of millions of people, the report noted.
Worldwide, the number of people who have fled their homes due to reasons linked to climate change has been on the rise. The World Bank has warned that the number of environmental refugees in the world will become 220 million in 2050.
According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC), natural disasters have been the main cause of most internal displacements over the past 15 years. In 2021 alone, 23.7 million new evacuees due to environmental causes were registered worldwide, against 14.3 million caused by conflicts. Among the most affected countries were China, the Philippines and India.
Number of climate migrants constantly climbing
Most recently, rising sea levels and Cyclone Sitrang have displaced millions in Bangladesh.
Many regions in northern Kenya have also been experiencing the worst drought in years. Some areas, like central Kenya, have seen crops drying up, harvests dwindling and hunger growing.
The drought in Somalia, meanwhile, has has affected 7 million people who are in dire need of assistance, and the country is on the verge of a second famine, the Minister for Agriculture Ahmed Madobe Nunow has warned.
Ethiopia is also struggling to feed its population as civil conflict continues between the central government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).