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ENVIRONMENTAL MIGRANTS, THE LAST ILLUSION. DHAKA, BANGLADESH

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Environmental migrants: the last illusion. 2008 became the point of no return: for the first time in history there are more people living in cities than in rural areas. Cities will grow even larger due to climate change and to environmental migrants, who are destined to become the new humanitarian emergency of the planet in the next few decades. According to a forecast by the United Nations, in 2050 the Earth will have to face the trauma depicted by 200 million “environmental migrants”: people who, according to the UN, will not “land” in the richer nations, but will look for new ways of livelihood in the urban areas of their home countries, which are already overcrowded and often extremely poor. The consequences are and will also be disastrous from a social, economical and environmental viewpoint for these cities. 90% of this kind of migration will occur literally in less developed countries, with relocation from rural areas to the more degraded areas of the city known as slums. What will happen is that the poorest countries, those who have least contributed to climate change, will be the worse hit by this phenomenon due to the lack of funds invested in alternative development policies in those areas which become inhabitable. The cities in these countries have already become victims of climate change and are destined to expand further due to unemployment, poverty and inhumane social conditions.

Chapter two: Dhaka, Bangladesh. Bangladesh is one of the countries which is most seriously affected by climate change. It is constantly battered by cyclones, coastal surges, overflowing rivers and violent downpours. Environmental migrants from across the country are pouring into the capital Dhaka escaping flooding that has destroyed not only their homes but their livelihoods too. Dhaka has a population of 14 million which is expected to increase to 50 million by 2050. Dhaka has over 400,000 newcomers entering the city each year; most of whom are environmental refugees. Miles of slums are home to these refugees who live quite literally piled on top of each-other. Dhaka is considered to be the fastest-growing city in the world.