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Women environmental sentinels

Too much or too little rain is causing a progressive humanitarian emergency: according to a report of the Environmental Justice Foundation, by 2050 climatic refugees will number about half a billion and about 200,000 will be leaving Africa. In “Noi Donne”, Emmanuela Irace tells of populations with no land left, of statistical data and figures that all too often we tend quickly to forget. Tsunamis, cyclones, droughts, flooding: whole families redirected to refugee camps, victims of a development model that produces mind-blowing numbers of environmental refugees. This is a progressive humanitarian emergency, less impressive than war but which, like war, calls for protection. If in 1986 the term environmental refugees was coined to define the 300,000 people evacuated following the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, since then in the academic world its juridical configuration has evolved. The lawyer Anna Brambilla explains: “The point is to find a category of humanitarian protection that characterizes climatic refugees, giving them a juridical status that distinguishes them from other categories of migrants and asylum seekers”. This invisible population consists mainly of women, farmers and fishermen who have lost all their means of self-support. Entire communities in every part of the world are forced to migrate because everywhere the sea is invading and salt is burning the land; because the rainy season is shorter, with dramatic consequences in southern Africa and not only there. In Mali, in the Fulani community, women are the sentinels of the environment: especially attentive, they are the first to monitor the territory for they have always been the ones to seek food and water for the family. Whether one espouses the thesis of denial or is an “over alarmist”, an undeniable fact remains: there is less and less available land. And without land there is no food.




St. Peter’s Square

Feb. 18, 2020