Migrants fleeing conflict: a trial run for mass-migration due to climate change

Refugees_Budapest_Keleti_railway_station_2015-09-04
Refugees, Budapest station, Hungary. Credit: Rebecca Harms
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)
via Wikimedia Commons

 AS I write this I have a sense of déjà vu.
Public health professionals as far back as the 6th ECTMIH conference [2009], which I attended, recognised that very little was being done in Europe to address mass migration (at that time from Sub-Saharan Africa). Travel medicine specialists were refocusing their research onto migration and asking why this was not being reflected in travel medicine text books and journals.

“Does anyone ever ask if migrants suffer from diarrhoea?” asked Manuel Corachan [CRESIB, Spain], one of the plenary lecturers at the conference.  

At that time, Italy (conference host) was bearing the brunt of illegal migration. The conference debated the needs of illegal migrants to Italy, the importance to public health in the host country of giving them access to health services and of having an awareness of disease prevalence & cultural attitudes in the migrant’s home country.  In 2011, the  organisers of ECTMIH , the Federation of European Societies for Tropical Medicine and International Health (FESTMIH) devoted the entire conference to “global change, migration & health”. 

But this foresight was not just ethically driven, it was in expectation of mass migration into Europe due to climate change.

What we are now seeing, less than 6 years later, headlining our daily news and social media is a trial run for what is to come. What was previously perceived as a problem arising out of climate change has hit the EU earlier than might have been anticipated because of people fleeing conflict and dictatorship.

Continue reading

Not much fun being Roma

  
3774606072_dfd3cdf013copyright: Adam Jones PhD

It's always struck me as ironic that a number of Hollywood film stars are happy to be credited with being 1/4  (1/8, 1/16th…) Native American but its not so positive to be more full-blooded Native American,  in terms of your social status, health or life opportunities in the US.

And if you substituted gypsy or Roma or “traveller” (a UK term) into those same actors’ ethnic mix, you wouldn’t even get claims for 1/8.

AS part of its fight for human rights, the Anne Frank museum, Amsterdam, which I visited 2 weeks ago, featured the plight of Roma in Hungary who are being pressured by Far Right groups, in their interactive debate for visitors. Daily, visitors are presented with current TV news items, linked to human rights, and asked to vote yes or no to a proposition.

I was in Amsterdam to attend EUPHA 2010. A speaker, Daniela Bobokova, presenting in the Health Inequalities session, dispelled thoroughly another preconceived idea about Roma…that they are drunks. “In Central Europe, it is thought that Roma drink more, smoke more and generally have more risky behaviour”, she said. Her talk focussed on binge drinking, comparing Roma and non-Roma adolescents in Slovak Republic, a country where Roma make up 7% of the population.

 

Continue reading