Migration, Dignity, Fragility, and Pandemics: Overview of the Special Issue
Mikiyasu Nakayama*1,, Shanna N. McClain*2, Ryo Fujikura*3, and Daisuke Sasaki*4
*1Global Infrastructure Fund Research Foundation Japan
Roppongi T-Cube 14F, 3-1-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0032, Japan
*2Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C., USA
*3Faculty of Sustainability Studies, Hosei University, Tokyo, Japan
*4International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), Tohoku University, Miyagi, Japan
This special issue presents the findings of an international collaborative research project conducted between 2019 and 2021. This study is a follow-up of a previous study conducted between 2016 and 2019. In both studies, we examined the livelihoods of future climate migrants, who may relocate from Pacific atoll countries to developed countries. The Maldives was also included in this study, as it developed a unique strategy to cope with anticipated sea-level rise. They have developed a new city on reclaimed land and elevated it, intending to move the majority of its population there. In our first research project, we learned of the challenges faced by Pacific Islanders when transitioning to their new lives in a foreign country. This included inter alia unemployment or lack of opportunities for upward mobility, limited access to healthcare and legal services, and discrimination. We thus developed a formal policy and legal framework for the concept of “Migration with Dignity,” built upon the phrase first coined by then-Kiribati President Anote Tong. Our framework represents the opportunity for migrants to live a life equal to or better than the one they left behind. We then applied our concept of the Migration with Dignity framework to the challenges faced by climate migrants in the real world. The global outbreak of COVID-19 occurred during the implementation of our new research project. This made field research almost impossible in both atoll and developed countries and led us to modify our survey methods to include tele-interviews and remote surveys through the Internet. The pandemic also revealed the exacerbated vulnerabilities of the people who migrated to developed countries, such as discrimination, poor or no translation of medical documents, and challenging healthcare processes. We decided to address these issues within the framework of our research. We leave it to the readers of this special issue to decide how far we were able to maintain the quality of our research despite the difficulties we faced due to the sudden pandemic. As we felt at the end of our last collaboration, we now know what we need to do in our next endeavor.
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