Small Wars Journal

“Refugees and Climate Change: A Cause for Hope?” - Part V: Conclusion and Reflection

Share this Post

“Refugees and Climate Change: A Cause for Hope?” - Part V: Conclusion and Reflection

 

J. David Thompson

 

This is the fifth paper in a five-part series. Part I: Introduction can be found here. Part II: Case Studies can be found here, Part III: Climate Displacement and Economic Policy can be found here, and Part IV: Climate Change, Refugees, and National Security can be found here.

 

This series of papers covered some serious and depressing topics: climate change, refugees and human displacement, and the politicking of national security. Hopefully, it found a glimmer of hope in such dire and serious topics. I chose these topics because they are near and dear to me. The positivity of the people impacted by such grave circumstances hits and sticks with me the hardest. This is where I found hope in the past, and I hope that through this paper the reader caught a glimmer of that hope. There are a few stories that stand out.

 

First, one of my former colleagues and friends met a Rohingya refugee in Bangladesh. This young girl told my friend that she wanted to be a soldier so that she could help people. She says this despite the Burmese military committing some of the worst atrocities imaginable. I have to wonder at how much compassion the Bangladeshi soldiers displayed to her. She is not so jaded that she lost hope in humanity. I find hope in her.

 

When working in Jordan, I assisted in a school that opened its doors to Syrian refugees. While painting signs with young girls, I got to hear about the friendships developed between Jordanians and Syrian refugees. While the Jordanians were sad for what was happening in Syria, they found an unintended consequence of the war in that it enabled them to meet new friends. The Syrian girls expressed the same sentiments. I find hope in their compassion and generosity.

 

Again in Jordan, I think of the Jordanians volunteering in Zaatari to provide education. I think of the young girls learning to stand up against child marriage. I think of the teenage boys learning arts and crafts so they have positive outlets to express themselves. If people promote their voices, there are opportunities for a future Syria.

 

In Israel, I think of my former Israeli and Palestinian colleagues advocating for equal access to healthcare for Palestinians. I think of the Israeli doctors volunteering their time to provide healthcare to Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees. There is hope in their everyday actions. It does not have to be the peace to end all peace.

 

This positivity does not automatically happen. We cannot take it for granted. As shown in the case of Lebanon, policies become self-fulfilling. Without substantial changes in Bangladesh, the forest may be obsolete this year. Despite overwhelmingly conclusive evidence of climate change and the security of the refugee program, people do not believe facts. Narratives become more important. To empower these voices, people have to practice radical inclusion. Leaders, especially American leaders, need to bring in voices by those impacted then amplify those voices.[i] Maybe I am too optimistic, but the alternative does not offer solutions.

 

Bibliography

 

Albright, M. (2018), Interview at Human Rights First and International Refugee Assistance Project, (September).

 

Albright, M. et al, (2017), Letter to Secretary Kelly, Acting Secretary Yates, and Acting Secretary Shannon, (January 30), https://www.politico.com/f/?id=00000159-f0ef-d46b-abdf-f4efdd310001.

 

Bahar, D. (2017), Give me your tired, your poor . . . and they will create jobs for us, Brookings Institute, (December 28), https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/give-me-your-tired-your-poor-and-they-will-create-jobs-for-us/.

 

Betts, A., (2018), Refuge, Reformed, Foreign Policy, (November 22), https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/22/refuge-reformed-kenya-refugees/.

 

Black’s Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014).

 

Brown, A. and Gamal, R., (2017), Using plastic bottles to build refugee homes, BBC, (January 25), https://www.bbc.com/news/video_and_audio/headlines/38749323/using-plastic-bottles-to-build-refugee-homes.

 

Dempsey, M. and Brafman, O., (2017), Radical Inclusion: What the Post-9/11 World Should Have Taught Us about Leadership, (Missionday).

 

Department of Defense, (2014), 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, (June), (Alexandria, VA), https://www.acq.osd.mil/eie/downloads/CCARprint_wForward_e.pdf.

 

International Rescue Committee, (2018), Madeleine Albright on the global refugee crisis, Displaced Podcast,  (April 10), https://www.rescue.org/displaced-podcast/madeleine-albright-global-refugee-crisis.

 

Galer, S., (2018), Lebanon is drowning in its own waste, BBC, (March 28) http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180328-lebanon-is-drowning-in-its-own-waste.

 

Goodman, P., (2018), Toxic Smoke is Africa’s Quiet Killer. An Entrepreneur Says His Fix Can Make a Fortune, New York Times, (December 6), https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/06/business/rwanda-charcoal-pellet-stoves-.html.

 

IKEA Foundation, (2018), Renewable Energy Boost for Azraq Refugee Camp, (October 17), https://www.ikeafoundation.org/stories/renewable-energy-boost-for-azraq-refugee-camp/.

 

Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, Global Internal Displacement Database, Norwegian Refugee Council, http://www.internal-displacement.org/database/displacement-data.

 

International Organization for Migration (IOM), (2018), UN Agencies, Government Distribute LPG Stoves to Rohingya Refugees, Bangladeshi Villagers to Save Remaining Forests, (August 17), https://reliefweb.int/report/bangladesh/un-agencies-government-distribute-lpg-stoves-rohingya-refugees-bangladeshi.

 

Inyenyeri, https://www.inyenyeri.com/.

 

Karam, J., (2018), Gebran Bassil: Lebanon does not accept Syrians as 'refugees', The National, (September 25), https://www.thenational.ae/world/gebran-bassil-lebanon-does-not-accept-syrians-as-refugees-1.773658

 

Karasapan, O., (2017), Syrian businesses in Turkey: The pathway to refugee integration?, Brookings Institute, (October 3), https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2017/10/03/syrian-businesses-in-turkey-the-pathway-to-refugee-integration/

 

Khawaja, B. et al., (2017), The Health Risks of Burning Waste in Lebanon, Human Rights Watch, (December 1), https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/12/01/if-youre-inhaling-your-death/health-risks-burning-waste-lebanon#.

 

Mahecic, A., (2019), Innovation, green tech and sunlight help secure safe water for Rohingya refugees, UNHCR, (January 4), https://www.unhcr.org/news/briefing/2019/1/5c2f239b4/innovation-green-tech-sunlight-help-secure-safe-water-rohingya-refugees.html?utm_source=NEWS&utm_medium=email&utm_content=2nd+section+4th+story+unhcr&utm_campaign=HQ_EN_therefugeebrief_external_20190104.

 

McDonnell, T., (2018), The Refugees the World Barely Pays Attention To, National Public Radio, (June 20), https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2018/06/20/621782275/the-refugees-that-the-world-barely-pays-attention-to.

 

McGrath, M., (2018), Climate change: Failure to tackled warming ‘suicidal’, BBC, (December 13), https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46543704?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/topics/cgdwpywgeegt/un-climate-change-conference-2018&link_location=live-reporting-story

 

McGrath, M., (2018), Sir David Attenborough: Climate change 'our greatest threat', BBC, (December 3), https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46398057?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/topics/cgdwpywgeegt/un-climate-change-conference-2018&link_location=live-reporting-story

 

Nowrasteh, A., (2016), Terrorism and Immigration: A Risk Analysis, CATO Institute, (September 13), https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/terrorism-immigration-risk-analysis

 

Peri, D., (2018), Fatal elephant attacks on Rohingya refugees push Bangladesh to act, The Guardian, (May 9), https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/may/09/fatal-elephant-attacks-on-rohingya-refugees-push-bangladesh-to-act.

 

Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG), (2018), Documenting Atrocity Crimes Committed Against the Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, (September).

 

Reynolds, M., (2018), Speech on Migration, Agriculture, and Development, Center for Strategic and International Studies, (November 8), https://www.csis.org/events/migration-agriculture-and-rural-development.

 

Rigaud, Kanta Kumari; de Sherbinin, Alex; Jones, Bryan; Bergmann, Jonas; Clement, Viviane; Ober, Kayly; Schewe, Jacob; Adamo, Susana; McCusker, Brent; Heuser, Silke; Midgley, Amelia. 2018. Groundswell : Preparing for Internal Climate Migration. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/29461 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.

 

Rono, B., (2017), Solar Energy Boost Learning in Refugee Camp, UNHCR Global Focus, (June 5), https://www.unhcr.org/ke/11224-solar-energy-boosts-learning-refugee-camp.html.

 

Suliman, A., (2018), Brick by brick: green homes build cohesion between Syrian refugees and Jordanians, Reuters, (October 31), https://www.reuters.com/article/us-jordan-housing-refugees/brick-by-brick-green-homes-build-cohesion-between-syrian-refugees-and-jordanians-idUSKCN1N51AX.

 

Taylor, L., (2017) Jordan switches on world's largest solar plant in refugee camp, Reuters, (November 13) https://www.reuters.com/article/us-jordan-solar-zaatari/jordan-switches-on-worlds-largest-solar-plant-in-refugee-camp-idUSKBN1DD22N.

 

UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 28 July 1951, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 189, p. 137, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/3be01b964.html [accessed 17 January 2019].

 

UNHCR, Data Portal: Bangladesh, https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/myanmar_refugees.

 

UNHCR, Data Portal: Jordan, https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/syria/location/36.

 

UNHCR, Donor Profiles, http://reporting.unhcr.org/donor-profiles.

 

UNHCR, Global Focus: Jordan, http://reporting.unhcr.org/node/2549.

 

UNHCR, Global Focus: Lebanon, http://reporting.unhcr.org/node/2520.

 

UNHCR, Jordan: Azraq Fact Sheet, (2018), (December), http://reporting.unhcr.org/sites/default/files/UNHCR%20Jordan%20Azraq%20Refugee%20Camp%20Fact%20Sheet%20-%20December%202018.pdf.

 

UNHCR, Jordan: Fact Sheet, (2018), (December), http://reporting.unhcr.org/sites/default/files/UNHCR%20Jordan%20Fact%20Sheet%20-%20January-December%202018.pdf.

 

UNHCR, Jordan: Zaatari Fact Sheet, (2018), (December), http://reporting.unhcr.org/sites/default/files/UNHCR%20Jordan%20Zaatari%20Refugee%20Camp%20Fact%20Sheet%20-%20December%202018.pdf

 

UNHCR, Kenya: Fact Sheet (2018), (June), http://reporting.unhcr.org/sites/default/files/UNHCR%20Kenya%20Operation%20Factsheet%20-%20June%202018.pdf.

 

UNHCR, Lebanon: Fact Sheet (2018), (June), http://reporting.unhcr.org/sites/default/files/UNHCR%20Lebanon%20Operational%20Update%20-%20January%20-%20June%202018.pdf.

 

UNHCR, Operational Portal, https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations.

 

UNHCR, Operational Portal: Lebanon, https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/syria/location/71.

 

UNHCR Resettlement Data Finder, https://rsq.unhcr.org/en/#JJ6r.

 

UNHCR, (2017), Rwanda: Clean Cook-stoves Increase Refugee Lives, YouTube, (March 13), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4cE8Aauedw.  

 

UNHCR, States Parties to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol, https://www.unhcr.org/3b73b0d63.pdf.

 

United States, and Barack Obama, (2015) National Security Strategy of the United States.

 

USAID, (2016), Addressing Impacts of the Syrian Refugee Crisis, https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1883/2016-08-17%20Syria%20Crisis%20Profile%2C%20old%20template-Final.pdf.

 

World Health Organization (WHO), (2018), Household air pollution and health, (May 8), https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/household-air-pollution-and-health.

 

World Health Organization, (2019) Jordan: water is life, The Health and Environmental Linkages Initiative, https://www.who.int/heli/pilots/jordan/en/.

 

End Note

 

[i] Dempsey, M. and Brafman, O., Radical Inclusion: What the Post-9/11 World Should Have Taught Us about Leadership.

About the Author(s)

J. David Thompson is a Civil Affairs Major. He has a Juris Doctorate from Washington Lee School of Law. He also holds a BS in Economics and MBA-Leadership from Liberty University. Outside the military, he's worked at the UN Refugee Agency, Department of Defense, and Physicians for Human Rights – Israel. Follow him on Twitter @jdthompson910