Education Resource

Behind the Story: Haitian Climate Migrants in the Bahamas

In 2019, Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas. Informal settlements of Haitian migrants were hit the hardest, journalist and grantee Sonia Shah reports. As Haitian communities dealt with the damage, the Bahamian government restarted a stalled program of ethnic cleansing and redevelopment. According to human rights advocates, government officials have confiscated survivors’ land, refused them aid at shelters, and deported hundreds to crisis-stricken Haiti.

No legal infrastructure on the international or national level facilitates the migration of those displaced by the climate crisis. This legal vacuum allows governments to use climate disasters, which disproportionately impact already marginalized communities, to achieve other policy goals, with disastrous consequences for human rights.

According to the UN's International Organization on Migration, as many as 200 million people will need to leave their homes as seas rise, deserts spread, and increasingly severe storms strike. But warnings about the destabilizing effect of mass migrations to come obscure a more brutal reality: today's survivors of climate disasters suffer not when they migrate, but because they can't.