In acknowledgement of World Refugee Day, CHASI is pleased to partner with UFV Student Refugee Program members Gina Dhinsa, Holly Janzen, and Catherine Janzen.
Today, we celebrate World Refugee Day and honour displaced persons around the world. We are members of the UFV Student Refugee Program – a group of students that sponsors refugees to move to Canada and study at UFV. In 2018, the UFV Student Refugee Program was able to sponsor a refugee student to Canada thanks to the kind donations of various university students and departments. We will be sponsoring another refugee student to Canada this coming August and feel empowered that as university students we can take concrete action to support those fleeing conflict, persecution, human rights violations, and violence.
The UFV Student Refugee Program also raises awareness about important issues related to the refugee crisis. This World Refugee Day, we would like to discuss climate refugees – individuals who are forced to flee from their homes due to the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels, drought, and extreme weather events. As our climate system continues to warm, the number of extreme weather events and their intensity are increasing. As a result, climate change is predicted to cause the displacement of up to 200 million people by 2050.
Yet, climate refugees are not included in the United Nations’ definition of “refugee.” In Canada, climate refugees are not officially recognized and are thus unable to seek refugee status on the basis of climate-related displacement. The lack of legal recognition of the term “climate refugee” is just one of the major barriers that climate refugees face in seeking safe aid and asylum.
It is our hope that by bringing attention to climate refugees, you feel inspired to learn more about this topic and include climate refugees in your discussions about displacement. Through these important conversations, we can raise awareness around the growing number of climate refugees and collectively advocate for their human rights to safety and freedom. The UFV Student Refugee Program celebrates the resilience of climate refugees and displaced persons around the world today – and every day.
This article is part of CHASI’s ongoing series acknowledging some of the significant annual observances that align with our core values.