By: Kabitanjali Amatya and Katrina Schmidt
Climate change is a glaring reality of which the consequences are becoming increasingly prevalent around the world. It is estimated that nearly 200 million people will be displaced from their homes by the end of the century due to rising ocean levels, drought and natural disasters (Geisler, 2017).
In a study done by Columbia University, researchers found that the number of asylum seeker applications to the European Union is estimated to increase by 28% by the end of this century. Other research has shown that the increase in applications for asylum correlates directly to agricultural shocks resulting from climate change (Missirian and Schlenker, 2017). The unsustainable population growth in addition to the loss of land and resources will result in more poverty and conflict in the years to come.
Islands like Kiribati and Tuvalu are predicted to disappear entirely due to rising sea levels by the end of the century.
“The future rise in global mean sea level probably won’t be gradual. Yet few policy makers are taking stock of the significant barriers to entry that coastal climate refugees, like other refugees, will encounter when they migrate to higher ground,” said Charles Geisler, Professor of Development Sociology at Cornell. These displaced people are not officially recognized as refugees and do not have any access to governmental support during their struggles, because the legal definition of refugees does not include those displaced by environmental factors. However, the number of these displaced people continues to rise at an alarming rate.
Islands like Kiribati and Tuvalu are predicted to disappear entirely due to rising sea levels by the end of the century. Coastal nations such as Fiji and Bangladesh are already suffering the consequences of climate change. While the United States and many other western nations have not sufficiently addressed these issues, countries like Fiji which are witnessing the most drastic consequences firsthand, have invested substantial resources into preparing for the coming crises.
In addition to coastal nations being threatened, parts of the Middle East and Africa are facing devastating droughts which have resulted in a shortage of food, water and other resources. These droughts have compounded conflicts in these regions and, according to climatologists, were a significant factor in the build up to the Syrian Civil War. In Nigeria alone, approximately ten million people have been displaced due to droughts and loss of resources.
This documented change in climate can in large part be attributed to the negligence of Western nations and their failure in taking needed measures to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change. Despite being largely responsible for climate change, some Western nations - particularly the United States - has done little to curb its emissions and to assist climate refugees. Climate change is a reality that we have caused and exasperated, and therefore it is our responsibility to work together for the betterment of the planet and to support those who are fighting to survive the disasters related to climate change.
By: Nick Licavoli
The Rohingya are fleeing into Bangladesh by the hundreds of thousands, as informal refugee camps become sprawling cities of desperation. "
Global crises waiver on a thin thread of individuals' attentions that can be cut anytime when the next global epidemic hits the main-stream media.
According to the Microsoft Corporation, “The average attention span of the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the effects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.”
While we focus on the next issue in the news, the “past” events are still ongoing. Such is the case with the current refugee crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh. You don’t hear too much about it, even though it is only a Google search away that the country is being ravaged by ethnic cleansing carried out by the military of Myanmar. The Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority primarily in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State, are fleeing into Bangladesh by the hundreds of thousands, turning informal refugee camps there into sprawling cities of desperation.
The Search for Safety
Unsure whether or not their young children will make it to Bangladesh safely, a family waits, frightened, in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine State, where, for two months, extreme violence has more or less confined the family to their rural home. Families sit waiting for large groups of people from their neighborhoods to leave with before embarking on the journey, thinking that there might be safety in numbers.
After several days of walking, the family finally makes it to the border, while an even longer wait is pending before they can leave the border area and walk towards the refugee settlements of Cox’s Bazar of Bangladesh. When they cross the border, the IOM, UNHCR, UNICEF, and MSF provide water and emergency medical help and identify unaccompanied children in need of protection. They also guide the refugees to Balukhali — which is another full day of walking. Many others seeking to escape Myanmar see the dangers of trying to flee to Bangladesh, due to the country’s economic instability and its own violence against minorities. This has in turn forced people to jump in small boats and guide their families through the sea to Indonesia or Malaysia.
Families are often unable to leave out of fear of the military taking their lives in the Rahkine State, or because they are too poor to make the journey across borders. Since the Rohingya are not allowed to sell land or their animals due to the government’s oppressive laws, many have to sell the few crops they have from the diminished lands they were able to harvest from. This money does not last long, as many need to pay others to assist their family members, carry any belongings they were able to bring, and to pay for medical assistance once across the border. New refugee arrivals are given essential items including tarpaulins, ropes, cooking pots and soap, before being shown to a part of the settlement where they can set up camp.
What will it take to address the crisis? How is the international community responding? How are the Rohingya faring — and what is it like covering such a sudden human exodus? Not much help is coming from the United Nations or neighboring countries opening their doors to “humans,” not just refugees. People who are no less than you and I, deserve no less of a home than you and I. We do not have to give our lives for one another, but at the very least we should raise concern and awareness for the continuing crises around the world. We are all humans, regardless of the distance between us.
Post by: Hadiatou Barry
During a four-day model refugee tent exhibit, No Lost Generation UO provided students on campus the opportunity to get a glimpse into the life of a refugee. This was in an effort to raise awareness about the refugee crisis and living conditions for many in refugee camps. The tent was based on typical refugee tents in camps in the Middle East, and was equipped with some of the basic appliances and objects one might see in a real refugee tent.
While at the tent, I noticed that visiting the inside of the tent was a sobering moment for most. Many students and community members came out of the tent asking questions about the space and the average number of family members who shared the small space. Many visitors were initially curious about what the exhibit was about, but showed great enthusiasm and support for the initiative after their visit.
This was No Lost Generation's goal with the exhibit. To raise awareness on our campus about the reality of living in a refugee camp. Students and faculty showed their support of NLG’s mission by signing the petition to support the establishment of tuition scholarships for refugees at the UO.
The impact of the refugee crisis extends beyond just safety and nutritional concerns, it also directly affects educational prospects for many of the youth who do not have access to education or jobs in camps."
NLG also focused on raising awareness about the lack of opportunities and access to education that the youth in these camps face. The impact of the refugee crisis extends beyond just safety and nutritional concerns, it also directly affects educational prospects for many of the youth who do not have access to education or jobs in camps. With nearly 2000 signatures and letters of support collected from students, faculty and departments, NLG plans to meet with the administration to make the scholarship initiative into a reality. The refugee tent exhibit was the perfect opportunity to show the massive amount of support on campus for the scholarship program.
Post by: Katrina Schmidt
In week three of winter term, No Lost Generation hosted a film screening alongside the Muslim Student Association of the 2009 French film “Welcome” by Philippe Lioret in an effort to draw awareness to the struggles of refugees. We had many students show up including those from the Muslim Student Association and several French students. There was food catered by Caspian, a Mediterranean restaurant in Eugene.
The movie follows Bilal, a young Iraqi-Kurdish refugee, and Simon, a French swimming coach who takes Bilal and his friend in. This is a risky move for Simon as aiding the refugees is considered illegal by the French government. Bilal is trying to make it to England to find his girlfriend Mina who has moved there with her family. Bilal has traveled for three months already to make it to France and the journey has not been easy.
One story he recounts is being kidnapped, beaten, and held for days with a bag tied around his head. With what little money he has left when he gets to France, Bilal tries to arrange passage into England by being smuggled in a semi-truck. Officers test carbon dioxide emissions in the trucks at different checkpoints to see if there is anyone inside. To avoid getting caught, the refugees in the truck put bags around their heads for several minutes until they can pass through. Bilal cannot handle this as it brings back memories of his time in captivity so he removes the bag and all the men are caught and arrested. This creates enemies for Bilal in the refugee camp he is sent to and now he does not have enough money to try again.
This is a risky move for Simon as aiding the refugees is considered illegal by the French government."
After coming upon a public pool, Bilal gets the idea that he will learn to swim and try to cross the English Channel. With his remaining money Bilal requests swimming lessons from Simon which is how the two meet. Once Simon realizes Bilal is a refugee, he struggles between wanting to help him and not wanting to get in trouble for helping him. Simon decides to help him out as he relates to Bilal and wants to see him reunited with his girlfriend. Simon himself is going through a divorce and wants to prove to his ex that he has compassion for others which is his starting motivation for helping them.
Even though their relationship starts out rocky, Simon comes to care for Bilal like a father and even gives him his ex’s wedding ring to propose to his girlfriend with. The friendship that is made between Bilal and Simon shows us the similarities between the two and how hard it is for Simon to overcome his assumptions and fears of trusting Bilal. The film overall does a great job of highlighting many of the struggles refugees face once they reach a new country.
We have just received a pledge for an annual $10,000 from the Office of International Affairs to go towards the scholarships we will be establishing for refugee students! There is still much more to do with this project ($10,000 is only a fraction of what we will need in order to put together these scholarships), and we will be meeting with administrators early spring term to discuss financial aid packages, tuition waivers and donor contributions. Nonetheless, this is an amazing step and we are clearly heading in the right direction! Thank you everyone for your great work and commitment, and get ready to hit the ground running with this as soon as spring term begins!
If this project is something you would like to get more involved with, please email or message us and we can discuss ways in which you can contribute. We can use all of the help we can get!