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Climate-Induced Migration from North Africa to Europe

Security and Climate Change
Leo Goff
Hilary Zarin,
Sherri Goodman

Mass migration from Africa into Europe is identified as one of the many security threats associated with climate change. The scale of the issue is reflected in numerous intelligence assessments and policy documents, and remains the subject of scores of conferences, workshops, and papers. European Union security experts warn that climate-induced migration may increase conflict in transit and destination areas and that Europe must expect substantially increased migratory pressure. Some Europeans cite these and other migration security warnings as a reason to move migration control to areas outside Europe or pass more restrictive immigration policies. On the other hand, some speculate that fears of international migration are"unfounded'" and"based on many misconceptions about the duration, destination, and composition of migrant flows." Still others have claimed that African migration into Europe is merely a"securitization" of climate change, in which migration is exaggerated for use as a political tool to motivate action to address the issue. At the same time, global organizations such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Foresight project on Migration and Global Environmental Change are advancing migration as a meaningful adaptation to climate change. These differing views on the impact of future African migration into Europe merit careful attention and resolution, particularly among policy makers and practitioners. We approach this subject pragmatically by examining what needs to be done to advance migration as an adaptation strategy to climate change. This article presents an overview of current and projected African migration trends and the associated security threats. Through this approach, we find that migration is primarily driven by socio-cultural factors that not only include economics and the environment, but also social networks, cultural norms, and demography. These factors directly affect migration, and therefore need to become a central tenet of policies that address migration, climate change, and security. We further find that not all migration is the same, and different types of migration carry different security risks. Careful examination of current and potential migration from Africa to Europe enables us to categorize migration into three broad categories: regular (legal) migration, irregular or illegal migration, and involuntary migration. The security threats associated with these categories of migration are also dependent upon the magnitude of migration. Combining differing migration types and migration magnitudes generates a variety of scenarios. This article examines migration by type and magnitude and provides a model in the form of a"security framework," which will allow policy makers and practitioners to compare, address, and reduce the most significant security challenges associated with climate change-induced migration.