Climate refugees or climate migrants? Legal protection for climate induced migrants

Ikua, Flora Wairimu
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Strathmore University
“I hear the waves on our island shore, they sound much louder than they did before. A rising swell flecked with foam, threatens the existence of our island home. A strong wind blows in from a distant place, the palm trees bend like never before. Our crops are lost to the rising sea and water covers our humble floor.”1
Climate change poses, perhaps, the biggest threat of the twenty-first century.2 As weather-related hazards such as temperatures, sea levels, floods, storms and wildfire rise, governments across the world are facing significant and unprecedented human displacement that there is currently no specific framework for international law to resolve. According to a UNHCR report, displacement linked to climate change is not a future hypothetical but a current reality.3 An annual average of 21.5 million people have been forcibly displaced by environmental related disasters each year since 2008.4