Australia should establish a new “Pacific Access” visa category that could be used by Pacific islanders forced from their homes by climate change and natural disasters, a new policy paper has argued, warning of growing displacement in Australia’s region in coming decades.
Disasters displaced three times as many people as conflict around the world last year, the paper from University of New South Wales’ Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law says, and the Asia-Pacific region is the hardest hit. Between 2008 and 2018, the Asia-Pacific saw more than 80% of all new global displacement.
“Australia cannot afford to ignore the fact that in its own region, internal and cross-border displacement within and from the Pacific islands is likely to increase as disasters intensify and become more frequent, exacerbated by the impacts of climate change,” authors Jane McAdam and Jonathan Pryke write.
“While Australia cannot stop such displacement altogether, it can implement policy changes now that would help to reduce its scale and impact.”