This a new series. Every Monday we pick a compelling photograph related to climate change, migration and displacement and tell the story behind it. 

This image shows a group of Somali and Ethiopian Refugees who have just crossed Gulf of Arden to get to Yemen. The photo was taken in 2007 when a complex web of conflict and drought was forcing millions of people to move.

The photo was taken in 2007 by a photographer working with the UN Refugee Agency. The Agency also interviewed Refugees who had made a similar journey.

“I took a boat from Obock in Djibouti,” he said through an interpreter. “To get there, I had to walk through the desert for two days from the Ethiopian border. I was kept by people smugglers in an isolated place near Obock with hundreds of others; men, women and children.”

We explored the relationship between climate, drought and conflict in the Horn of Africa in our Moving Stories project.

A combination of drought and conflict has affected over 13 million in the Horn of Africa. A number of forces have shaped the patterns of movement and displacement connected with this crisis. High international food prices have severely affected the highly import-dependent countries in the region, especially Djibouti and Somalia. Warnings were issued in 2010 when the region experienced its driest season in 60 years, associated with a strong La Niña event. Recent research has shown that the drought was made more likely by climate change. With over 80% of the region’s population dependent on agriculture for their livelihood, this had devastating effects. The region has also experienced two decades of political violence including interstate wars, civil conflicts and one-sided violence involving the massacring of civilians.

Image: UNHCR / J. Björgvinsson / March 2007

Alex Randall coordinates the UK Climate Change and Migration Coalition. He is author several reports on migration and climate change. He writes regularly on migration, displacement and climate change for a number of outlets.


Thumbnail map image: Creative commons: Wikimedia.

Background texture image: Creative Commons Ellen Van Deelan

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