Understanding climate migration with a focus on Latin American children and families

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Authors: Esther Tobarra, Fernando Wang, and Leslie Rubin
Page Range: 391-406
Published in: International Public Health Journal, 15#4 (2023)
ISSN: 1947-4989

Table of Contents

ABSTRACT

Consequences of climate change are forcing an increasing number of people around the world to migrate from their climate-stressed countries of origin to countries that offer better access to vital resources and greater security. This trend can significantly impact migrant’s health and socioeconomic outlooks, as well as having unanticipated implications for the countries of origin and destination. Many migrants are families with children, who are most vulnerable to the impacts of environmental hazards. Migration can disturb a child’s formative years, increasing the risks of physical harm, mental illness, and social vulnerabilities, and, when traveling alone, becoming a target for kidnapping and human trafficking. We explore the example of an increasing number of migrants leaving countries in Latin America for neighbouring countries including the United States (US). Around half of those arriving to the US originate from the Central Dry Corridor of the Northern Triangle, with food insecurity being one of the primary reasons. There is an urgent need to protect the rights of this group of vulnerable children, ensuring their appropriate settlement, with access to healthcare and education. Health professionals can play an essential role in identifying risks to migrant children’s physical and psychological health, and advocating on their behalf. Social Prescribing is an example of a valuable strategy that offers a community-centred framework, favouring integration and personalised care, and taking a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. We also recognize the need for more research and information on optimal strategies to promote migrants’ family wellbeing in their new country.

Keywords: Migrants, climate change, refugees, Latin America

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