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Passover 2022 – On Freedom and Climate Migration

Passover has inscribed in the common cultural consciousness with a number of names, as the holiday of Spring or holiday of Matzah, also was burned in the national and universal memory as the Holiday of freedom, commemorates the Exodus from Egypt, and the immortal call “Let my people go!”, gives us a unique opportunity in 2022 to find out about the historical contexts and the contemporary between one of the founding events in the history of a nation and the hottest topic prevalent in world discourse, the climate crisis.

This understanding is empowered when the international “climate strategy” that are targeting “future generations”, correspond directly with distant historical events, providing us to meet the roots of the period of slavery of the people of Israel, in a very contemporary context: severe famine and lasting drought, i.e., a climatic constraint that led to migration South. Furthermore, diverse historical evidences indicated that the climate crisis befell all over the Mediterranean countries, and those who descended into Egypt came from northern Mediterranean Sea, Sicily, Sardinia and Greece. Ironically, according to the narrator, Egypt was attentive to son of Israel, to Joseph’s advice and prepared for the crisis of drought and famine, a preparation that today would have been classified as “food security.”

What can be learned from history and contemporary processes that meet at the political crossroads? The days of summer 2018 were of the international process of formation the Global Compact for world migration, and for the first time it was seen as having a potential to cause a significant paradigm shift relating the ‘Climate Migration’.

The ‘Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration’ (GCM), signed in New York on December 2018, seeks to cover “all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner”.  It is an intergovernmental negotiated agreement which is legally non-binding but opens a window for a stronger anchoring of climate-induced migration into the international migration discourse and political agenda.

Together with colleagues from Africa, mainly Nigeria and Cameroon (who are working in the Lake of Chad region that devastatingly has been impacted by climate change), and from European countries, Association of Environmental Justice in Israel have tried to raise the subject. We thought there is no better time to bring the issue of climate migration to be officially part of global Migration accord. Unlike my colleagues, as an Israeli and as advocate for climate justice, I was motivated also by the disappointment by the Israel government decision not sign on this historical accord of global compact. In the world arena, unfortunately, our group was failed to convince the heads of the Global Compact of the importance of raising the climate migration to be integral part of the discourse of migration, only 3 years ago.

But in 2022 can be said that the discourse is already changing. In the past year, collaboration to established a new initiative “Climate Migration in the Euro-Med Region”, is already active. Although ‘Climate migration’ is not yet a legal term recognized by international institutions, we are making constant progress – scientific knowledge is expanding, partnerships between organizations and various stakeholders are being woven and the international workshop we held few months ago, funded by EU fund and hosted distinguished representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees could not have happened only 3-4 years ago.

The UNFCCC recently published the periodic report with a warn on the irreversibility of the Climate warming, gained unprecedent international media coverage. But, other agency of UN, published only few months ago annual report on the state of refugees. Highly worrying situation. Only in the context of “forced displacement”, the year of 2020 was the 9th year of a steady rise of forced displacement around the world. The number of forced displaced persons today is double in a decade, reach more than 40 million. The efforts should be devoted to solutions. Sustainable Solutions.

When considering such ‘sustainable solution’, to my view the discourse should be changed. ‘Climate’ here is not only in the ‘active role’ of inducing migration – but also, should play major role to drive solutions to the migration crisis – with understanding that solution for migration be within the framework of climate adaptation strategies for the long term.

And as the days of Passover commend us to remember, it is worth to think on the biblical order, which turned to be throughout the generations a universal message to governments, in our region and around the world, especially when a mass migration happening in LIVE, in 2022. Leviticus 19:33-34: “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt

Carmit Lubanov is director of Association for Environmental Justice in Israel (AEJI) and Co-Founder of the European Initiative ‘Climate Migration in Euro-Med’.

About the Author
Executive Director of Association of Environmental Justice in Israel (AEJI), has expertise on Environmental Justice and Social Theory, as well as long time engaged on field projects among weak links of the society. The focus of Carmit work is the inter linkages between the social, Environmental and political policy, environmental poverty, inequity and discrimination. Carmit has specialized on research, policy advocacy, and mobilizing processes for long term change.
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