As UN member states meet to discuss the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees, it is essential that they consider the specific needs of individuals impacted by natural disasters and the adverse effects of climate change. Those moving across international borders in the context of disasters and climate change do not always fall neatly within existing definitions of refugees and migrants, leaving the most vulnerable individuals without sufficient protection and at risk of human rights violations.
In November, Refugees International carried out a mission to Puerto Rico to investigate the U.S. response to Hurricane Maria. Our team found the response by federal and Puerto Rican authorities was still largely uncoordinated and poorly implemented, prolonging the humanitarian emergency on the ground. Thousands of people still lack sustainable access to potable water and electricity and dry, safe places to sleep.