Migration1has proved to be one of the biggest concerns under international law from thepast decade till now. It has proved to be one of the most difficult areas ofstudy amongst migrant related organizations in the world. Statistically the number of internationalmigrants rose from 173 million in 2000 to 244 million people in 20052and this number is expected to grow further.
This topic has been acontroversial topic in all countries, especially since 67 percent3of the migrants go to only 20 countries with the most going to the UnitedStates. It is also documented that out of the 244 million migrants 65. 6million of them were forcibly displaced, 22.5 million are refugees and 10million of them are considered to be stateless persons4 Therefore there is 145.
9 Million peoplethat cannot be categorized as to why they immigrated as they will not fall onthe 1951 definition of refugees, it is also important to note that the 244Million people also includes individuals who immigrated due to economicreasons.Environmentalrefugees have been on the increase in the past decade due to climatefluctuations, however being that it is a new phenomenon under international lawthere is no clear definition on the term environmental refugees or itsinclusion under international law that seeks to protect such persons. Overthe recent years refugees have increased and as some organizations have attributedthis increase not only due to conflict but also due to environmentaldegradation. Climate induced refugees have been on the increase due toelements such as rise of the seal level and other harsh climatic conditionswhich has been witnessed in the world. In Pacific Countries like Kiribati andTuvalu they have had adverse effects in the rise of the sea level; as such mostmigrate to nearby higher ground countries such as Australia. However, due tothe non recognition by International Refugee law, they cannot be protected andas such cannot be given refugee status.
This paper shall deal with the Environmentalmigration quagmire by Africans with emphasis on the Tuareg community, WesternSahel. In Pre-Colonization Africa, there were no territorial boundaries thatwere set as such it was easier for communities to move from one country toanother however upon decolonization and partition of Africa, some communitiesthat cut across vast area of lands found themselves in a quagmire. This in turnhas created migration difficulties to the countries as they share not only thesame lifestyle but also the same language, traditions the only difference beingthe territorial boundaries. Some of the affected communities affected in the EastAfrican region include but not limited to the Ogaden community of Somalia,Ethiopia and Kenya as well as the Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania.
Othercommunities that have been affected in Africa are within the Sahel region, is theTuareg community. This paper seeks to investigate the Tuaregcommunity of the Western Sahel region. The Sahel region is vast and cuts acrossseventeen countries; however this study limits itself within the western Sahelregion with main emphasis on four countries namely: Algeria, Mali, Burkina Fasoand Niger. The Tuareg community 5 is a nomadic tribe within the western Sahelregion of Africa; the community is dived into 6 castes namely:v Kel Adagh occupy from the highlands of Mali6across northern Niger to Southern Algeria,v Kel Ahaggar occupy the highlands of Algeria7,v Kel Ajjer occupy western Libya andeastern Algeria,v Kel Ayr occupy northern Niger8,v Kel Gres occupy South central Niger andthev Iwellemedan9 occupy from North central Mali across north westernNiger to northern Nigeria.
NorthernMali and Niger host the largest group of the Tuareg community, the total Tuaregtribe has a population of 2 .5Million10.The Tuareg people have lived in the Sahara desert for years and have adapted tothese harsh conditions throughout the years. What makes it different no ascompared to other decades is that the climatic conditions have worsenedthroughout the Sahel. The western Sahel has experienced two droughts between1968-1974 and 1982-1984 that on record more than 100,000 died mostly being children,between the first drought and the second drought it has seen more than 750,000people dependant on food aid in Mali, Niger and Mauritania.
11Majorityof Africa’s environmental refugees come from the Sahel region12,because of the harsh climatic conditions found, from the expansion of the Saharadesert to the weather fluctuations from intense flooding to sever drought facedwithin the region. The Tuareg Community not only faces harsh climaticconditions in their territory but they also face government neglect asexperienced in Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso and, Niger ,this in turn has led topolitical turmoil and instability within the region. Maliwhich is currently facing civil conflict squandered relief funds that was notonly meant for the Tuareg community and but other tribes within Mali, the samecorruption spread to Niger. Due to corruption scandals and lack of assistancefrom the governments of Mali and Niger, majority of the TuaregCommunity moved in masses to Algeria and Libya as the then drought heightenedin the 1970’s and 80’s. This eventually led to the migrants from the TuaregCommunity be treated with animosity in their host countries.With the preliminary analysis given above the Tuareg communityunder international law can only seek refugee status under the 1951 Conventionon the basis of being persecuted but not because of environmental degradation withintheir territorial boundaries. This has led to a lot of instability in thewestern Sahel region. The fact that they have been neglected by variousgovernments and harsh climatic conditions they have been economically forced tojoin Boko Haram13 and theTuareg rebellion14 of Mali.
1 “Any person who is moving or hasmoved across an international borders or within a state away from his/herhabitual place of residence, regardless of (1) of the person’s legal status;(2) whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary; (3) what the cause forthe movement are; or (4) what the length of the stay is” IOM2 InternationalMigration Report 2015 : Highlights: ST/ESA/SER.A/375 : Department of Economic andsocial affairs3 Ibid 44 http://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html on 12th October 12, 2017 at 2:23PM5 Tuareg is the plural name of community anindividual is referred to as Targui, Tuareg,refer to themselves as Kel (Peopleof) Tamasheq bound by their language Tamasheq which they commonly share among all countries of thewestern Sahel that inhabits the Tuareg community.6Adrar des Ifoghas, located in Northern Mali7Hoggar mountains found in South eastern part of Algeria8Kel Ayr are center around Aïr Massif innorthern Niger9 Also known as Iullemmeden, Aullimindenand Ouilliminden10 Joseph R. Rudolph Jr. (2015).
Encyclopediaof Modern Ethnic Conflicts, 2nd Edition 2 volumes. ABC-CLIO. p. 381.
ISBN 978-1-61069-553-4.11 Ibid212https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/tuareg-migration-critical-component-crisis-sahelMerise Jalali formerly interned at MPI, working with the Migration andDevelopment Program.13 An Islamic insurgence group in WestAfrica 14 Also known as Azawad , it is a movement that focuses on the secession ofNorthern Mali that inhabits majority of the Tamasheq people