Guest Blogger Vivien Dinh: Climate Change, Migration, and Children

Photo credit: DanChurchAid

The movements of peoples around the world due to climate change affects all of those involved but none is more susceptible to the problems created by climate change migration than children. Current trends show climate change is impacting the developing world much more directly than upon the developed world. Furthermore, 85% of the estimated 2.2 billion children in the world live in the developing world leaving children at greater risk for diseases, exploitation and the psychological impacts that is sure to affect generations to come.

UNICEF’s report entitled, Climate Change and Children: A Human Security Challenge” outlines these risks including the “increasingly convincing body of evidence that many of the main killers of children (malaria, diarrhoea and undernutrition) are highly sensitive to climatic conditions”. According to a paper by the International Institute for Environment and Development, a decrease in water supply, increased desertification, and rising sea levels among others all mean a rise in forced migration thus “more malnutrition, more disease, more death and injury, more risk of neglect, abuse and exploitation” have all been documented outcomes in youth populations.

The story of Petro, a street child in Malawi highlights this risk. Because of a number of bad harvest seasons in his rural village, his parents had no way to feed him. His father eventually found a job on a plantation far from their village and Petro was left to fend for himself. Ultimately Petro found himself begging on the streets of Blantyre, Malawi’s biggest city. The catalyst for Petro’s move was the drought causing the bad harvest which ultimately caused a breakdown in his family and eventual move to an urban area.

To better understand why a family breakdown could occur so seemingly with ease, it is imperative to understand the role of a child within many developing countries and how the Convention on the Rights of the Child plays a definitive part in changing that role. This, coupled with the need to raise awareness of a new kind of forced migration caused by climate change to hopefully garner greater protection for children set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Child are vital to ending stories like Petro’s.

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