Mali, one of the poorest countries in West Africa, is nonetheless resource-rich in global commodities such as oil and gold. Gold is Mali’s primary export, and the industry surrounding it attracts many at-risk migrant laborers to work in “artisanal mining.” This “mining” consists of women, children, and men panhandling in rivers for meager quantities of gold. Many of these migrants are also refugees from ongoing conflicts in Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal. They are lured to Mali with promises of good-paying work and relocation to Europe but are subsequently trapped by gangs, including some religious extremist groups such as Al Qaeda “affiliates.” Job seekers are forced to work to “pay off” false debts to these gangs. Many laborers are trafficked and forced to become sex workers. Civil society and NGOs like Caritas Mali and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) may be best positioned to address the needs of Mali’s trafficked workers and prevent labor abuse.
People’s circumstances, available choices, and decisions on movement are affected by climate change. However, it is too simplistic and empirically inaccurate to suggest that climate change causes human movement. First, while scientific efforts are evolving, in general attributing a specific event or phenomena solely to climate change is difficult. Second, the impacts of climate change are never the sole ‘cause’ of human movements. Third, personal and household characteristics, as well as obstacles and facilitators, influence decisions on movement.