TOPIC BRIEFS

Addressing the issue of forced displacement due to climate change

Addressing the issue of child soldiers in South Sudan

Climate refugees or climate migrants are a part of environmental migrants who are forced to flee due to sudden or gradual alterations in the natural environment related to at least one of three impacts of climate change: sea-level rise, extreme weather events, and drought and water scarcity.  Research indicates that the Earth’s climate is changing at a rate that has exceeded most scientific forecasts. Many families and communities have already started to suffer from disasters and the consequences of climate change, which has forced them to leave their homes in search of a new beginning. UNHCR recognizes that the consequences of climate change are extremely serious, including for refugees and other people of concern. People are trying to adapt to the changing environment, but many are being forcibly displaced from their homes by the effects of climate change and disasters, or are relocating in order to survive. New displacement patterns, and competition over depleted natural resources can spark conflict between communities or compound pre-existing vulnerabilities. People displaced across borders in the context of climate change and disasters may in some circumstances be in need of international protection. Refugee law therefore has an important role to play in this area. UNHCR is providing protection and assistance for many people forcibly displaced by the effects of climate change and disasters, among other drivers, and is working to increase their resilience.

Sudan is the country with one of the largest number of child soldiers in the world. The ceremony consists of them symbolically taking off the military clothes, and receiving blue UNICEF labelled notebooks and schoolbags.

Many children are forced to join military groups at a young age. Child soldiers are also easier to manipulate and force into conflict. Recruiters typically target children from troubled areas or conflict zones, likely accustomed to violence and with fewer educational or work opportunities

 

Despite a government agreement in the District of Chad to demobilize the recruitment of child soldiers, there were between 7,000 and 10,000 children under 18 serving in combat and fulfilling other purposes

 

According to the UN, there are still 19,000 children in armed forces in South Sudan, a number contested by the army. Many of the children in the ceremony have already returned to their communities before the official release. But across South Sudan and in refugee camps outside the country, there are children and youth who left or escaped from the armed forces but received no assistance and have not been through a rehabilitation program. Depending on age, boys are either used as porters, cleaners, or are trained to fight. Girls are often taken as "wives", and often return in their communities with children.