When mobility drivers are scrutinised and climate change is found to play a role in movement, it remains difficult to determine the extent of its influence. “Misleading claims about mass migration induced by climate change continue to surface in both academia and policy.” There are arguments to indicate that research needs to move beyond simplistic assumptions so that it “more accurately advances knowledge of the nexus between human mobility and climate change”. Some advocate a shift towards adopting the more flexible concepts of “climate mobility” and “climate immobility” instead of the more rigid “climate-induced migration”. Despite some evidence for climate-induced cross-border movement, there is a strong likelihood that involuntary immobility will become the biggest and most relevant issue in the Horn of Africa when it comes to the link between environment and mobility.
This paper will show that although conditions in the Horn of Africa and Yemen are variously characterised by conflict, authoritarian regimes, poor governance, poverty, and mass displacement, along with harsh environments that produce negative climate change impacts, there is scant evidence that these impacts cause intercontinental and interregional mixed migration. The linkages are hard to locate. Climate change and environmental stressors cannot easily be disaggregated from the wide range of factors affecting populations, and even where some disaggregation is evident the results are not seen in the volume, direction, or destination choices of those affected.