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Working Papers

Migration and Disaster-Induced Displacement: European Policy, Practice, and Perspective - Working Paper 308

10/18/12
Michael D. Cooper
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Over the last decade, a series of devastating natural disasters have killed hundreds of thousands of people, displaced millions, and decimated the built environment across wide regions, shocking the public imagination and garnering unprecedented financial support for humanitarian relief efforts. Some suggest that disaster migration must be supported by the international community, first as an adaption strategy in response to climate-change, and second, as a matter of international protection.

This study surveys the current state of law as it relates to persons displaced by natural disaster, with a specific focus on the 27 member states of the European Union plus Norway and Switzerland. Its findings show that a few express provisions are on the books in Europe and that there is reason to believe that judicial and executive authorities may interpret other, more ambiguous, provisions to encompass the protection needs of disaster-displaced individuals. Few, if any, of these provisions have been engaged for this purpose, but a number of recent European developments with respect to disaster-induced displacement merit further scrutiny.