The growing impact of physical geography in refugee flow prediction modelling: The case of South Sudan

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According to the UNHCR (2021) the impacts of climate change are increasingly triggering forced displacement. Because the awareness of the impact of climate change is relatively new and because the literature mainly focuses on political violence and culture as the main drivers behind refugee flows and internal displacement, refugee flow prediction models have yet failed to include physical geographical factors such as weather and climate. This leads to incomplete and one-sided predictions of when and where refugee flows will occur because there is solely a focus on social geographical factors. One of the countries that has become victim of the consequences of climate change is South Sudan. The main research question guiding this research is therefore: To what extent do physical geographical factors play a role in predicting South Sudanese refugee flows? Based on the results of this research it can be concluded that physical geographical factors play a significant role in predicting South Sudanese refugee flows. Flooding and drought, that also both cause food insecurity, set in motion major refugee flows in 2020. If the function of a refugee prediction model is to help humanitarian organisations with providing aid in places and times where it’s necessary, it is crucial to incorporate physical geographical factors.
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