When natural disasters strike populated areas, the toll in human lives, infrastructure and economic activities can be devastating and long-lasting. The psychological effects can be just as debilitating, instilling fear and discouragement in the affected populations. But, adversity also brings forth the strongest and best in human beings, and reveals initiatives, capacities and courage not perceived before. How is development undermined by natural disasters, what is the effect on migrants and migratory flows and what is the role of migration in mitigating some of the worst effects of natural calamities?
This paper explores how the advent of a natural disaster interplays with the migration–development nexus by reviewing the impact of the Indian Ocean Tsunami on migration issues in three affected countries; Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. This paper focuses on three particular aspects of how natural disasters interplay with the migration/development dynamic: (a) Impact of natural disasters on migrant communities, in particular heightened vulnerabilities and lack of access to humanitarian/development assistance; (b) Effect of natural disasters on migratory flows into and out of affected areas due to socio-economic changes which undermine pre-disaster development levels, (c) Diaspora response and support in the aftermath of disaster and the degree to which this can offset losses and bolster “re-development”.