Offering immigration law advice to people displaced by the effects of climate change
Nadheer* fled Yemen in 2018. The Houthi militia, who had taken over Nadheer’s town, had asked Nadheer to work in exchange for basic rations. Nadheer refused to work for the militia, and soon after, his neighbor’s home was bombed.
Nadheer suspected the bombing was actually targeted at his home. Nadheer escaped and arrived in Australia on a visitor visa. Soon after, he asked the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) for help applying for a protection visa because he considered it was not safe for him to return home. One issue is whether Nadheer could relocate to a safe area in Yemen if he returned. Climate change is exacerbating existing political instability in Yemen. The World Bank has noted the diminishing availability of water in parts of Yemen, and the ongoing conflict has accelerated the water scarcity. Inconsistent rainfall is affecting crop yields, and warmer ocean temperatures and sea-level rise threaten the bio-diversity in the surrounding seas. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and increasingly deadly. Unusually high temperatures are increasing the spread of malaria, while the ongoing conflict makes it more difficult to receive proper medical care.
RACS assisted Nadheer in preparing his protection visa application. RACS is now assisting Nadheer in drafting submissions for an interview with the Department of Home Affairs. He is arguing that it is not possible for him to relocate in Yemen, using a recent Federal Court case that says relocation is not to be considered to areas where he would be unsafe, given his home country generally is “unsafe or physically uninhabitable or so inhospitable that a person would be exposed to a likely inability to find food, shelter or work” and is “so war ravaged that civilians are in daily peril.”
If Nadheer’s application is successful, he will be granted a permanent protection visa. He may then be able to bring to Australia the wife and two children he left behind in Yemen.
*Name changed to protect privacy.