New Zealand Wants To Create Visas For Refugees Displaced By Climate Change
Being displaced by climate change, more often than not means that you’ll probably never be able to return. Either your home was destroyed, your island was completely submerged because of sea level rise, or it simply became too hot in your area for habitation, all of these can cause people to flee in other areas.
New Zealand, even though it once deported a climate change refugee, back in 2014, is now looking into ways to help those who are affected by climate change and can no longer lead a normal life in their native land. They are thinking about developing a new series of visas that would benefit those living in the Pacific, and whose islands are under threat from completely disappearing under the waves.
This idea was brought forth by members of New Zealand’s Green Party. “It is a piece of work that we intend to do in partnership with the Pacific islands,” said Green party leader James Shaw.
This new program, though good, may be faced with a series of legal and judicial problems. International environmental law expert Associate Professor Alberto Costi said that, for instance, the country needs to decide whether these displaced refugees would be permitted to return or live in their home country once they received these visas.
“I have sympathy, but legally it creates a big debate…there needs to be clear guidelines,” said Costi, though he added, “It’s an idea to be explored. I would welcome more clarity.”
Nevertheless, New Zealand will have to make a decision soon enough, because climate change will not be waiting for them on this. Just this September, Fiji’s Minister of Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Inia Seruiratu gave out a statement in which it was clear that for them, climate change is a matter of survival.