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Escalation of Climate Change Intensifies Displacement of Children Due to Extreme Weather

by Joshua Brown
10 comments
Child Displacements Due to Climate Change

According to a report from the United Nations, between 2016 and 2021, over 43 million children were forcibly relocated due to extreme weather events such as storms, floods, and fires. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) anticipates that within the coming three decades, more than 113 million child displacements are likely to occur, factoring in hazards like river flooding, cyclonic winds, and the deluges that typically accompany storms.

Children like Shukri Mohamed Ibrahim, a 10-year-old girl from Somalia, symbolize the grim reality of this ongoing crisis. Ibrahim’s family abandoned their home five months ago after enduring the harshest drought in over half a century, which devastated the fertile grazing lands they depended on for their livelihood. Forced to relocate to a camp in Mogadishu, Ibrahim now attends school for the first time, an ostensibly positive development. However, the camp offers inadequate shelter, sanitation facilities are lacking, and food is in short supply.

While extreme weather events like floods and storms often trigger preemptive evacuations, droughts typically do not. This results in an undercount of the true number of displaced individuals, particularly in nations like Somalia. Global climate change exacerbates these phenomena, leading to rising sea levels that erode coastlines, intensifying storms that affect urban areas, and droughts that fuel conflicts. Yet, formal recognition and protection mechanisms for climate migrants remain insufficient.

Laura Healy, a UNICEF migration specialist and one of the authors of the report, stated, “The consequences of climate change will increasingly affect children in the future.” The study revealed that children were involved in nearly a third, or 43 million, of the 134 million total instances of displacement due to extreme weather between 2016 and 2021. Approximately half were uprooted by storms, with significant numbers of displacements occurring in the Philippines. Floods accounted for more than 19 million child displacements, primarily in India and China, whereas wildfires affected children 810,000 times in the United States and Canada.

The report, compiled in collaboration with the Geneva-based International Displacement Monitoring Center, also found that children in the Horn of Africa and small Caribbean islands are particularly vulnerable due to “overlapping crises” involving climate risks, societal conflict, fragile institutions, and poverty. Departing from their homes exposes children to additional dangers, including exploitation.

Countries such as Vietnam, India, and Bangladesh are likely to experience large-scale child displacements in the future due to worsening climate conditions. Policymakers and the private sector need to consider the unique vulnerabilities of children when devising climate and energy plans. The UNICEF report advocates for the creation of “shock-responsive, portable and inclusive” education and healthcare systems to assist children and their families in better managing the outcomes of natural disasters.

“We possess the requisite tools and knowledge, but the pace of our actions is insufficient,” remarked Healy.

The report serves as a critical call to action, urging governments and organizations to integrate these findings into their policymaking and relief efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Child Displacements Due to Climate Change

What is the main focus of this report?

The main focus of this report is the growing number of child displacements caused by extreme weather events, which are exacerbated by climate change. It presents both current statistics and future estimates based on a United Nations report.

How many children have been displaced due to extreme weather events between 2016 and 2021?

According to a United Nations report, over 43 million children were displaced due to extreme weather events such as storms, floods, and fires between 2016 and 2021.

What does the UNICEF report predict for the future?

The UNICEF report estimates that more than 113 million child displacements are likely to occur in the next three decades. These projections consider various climate-related hazards like river flooding, cyclonic winds, and storm-induced floods.

Who are the most vulnerable populations mentioned in the report?

The most vulnerable populations are children in the Horn of Africa and small Caribbean islands. These children are particularly susceptible due to “overlapping crises” that involve climate risks, societal conflict, fragile institutions, and poverty.

What are the primary types of extreme weather events causing child displacements?

The primary types of extreme weather events causing child displacements are storms, floods, and wildfires. Storms have been responsible for nearly half of the forced relocations, especially in countries like the Philippines.

What policy recommendations does the report make?

The report calls for the creation of “shock-responsive, portable and inclusive” education and healthcare systems. It urges policymakers and the private sector to consider the unique vulnerabilities of children when devising climate and energy plans.

Why are formal recognition and protection mechanisms for climate migrants insufficient?

Formal recognition and protection mechanisms for climate migrants remain insufficient because the world has yet to officially recognize the concept of climate migrants and establish formal ways to protect them.

What are the additional risks faced by children when displaced?

Children face additional risks such as exploitation and a lack of protection when they are displaced. They are more vulnerable because they are dependent on adults and do not have the ability to stand up for themselves.

What countries are likely to see a rise in child displacements due to worsening climate conditions?

Countries like Vietnam, India, and Bangladesh are projected to experience a significant increase in child displacements due to worsening climate conditions in the future.

What does the report say about the current pace of action to mitigate these issues?

The report states that the current pace of action is insufficient. Despite having the necessary tools and knowledge to address these issues, efforts are not being made quickly enough to mitigate the effects.

More about Child Displacements Due to Climate Change

  • UNICEF Report on Child Displacement Due to Climate Change
  • International Displacement Monitoring Center
  • United Nations Climate Change Information
  • AP’s Climate Initiative
  • Climate and Energy Planning Policies
  • Global Data on Extreme Weather Events
  • Vulnerabilities and Overlapping Crises in Horn of Africa and Caribbean
  • Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Statistics
  • Climate-Responsive Education and Healthcare Systems
  • Current Global Climate Action Plans and Progress

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10 comments

SophiaL October 6, 2023 - 1:28 pm

Overlapping crises? As if climate change wasn’t enough. this is deeply concerning.

Reply
AlexR October 6, 2023 - 3:28 pm

UNICEF is doing important work but it’s not enough. Governments need to step up their game too.

Reply
Sarah_M October 6, 2023 - 3:28 pm

113 million displacements in the next 30 years? Thats just insane. we gotta do something, and fast.

Reply
WilliamK October 6, 2023 - 4:10 pm

Vital services need to be “shock-responsive, portable and inclusive” – well said. The old systems just aren’t gonna cut it.

Reply
Mike_T October 6, 2023 - 6:26 pm

So storms are the biggest culprit here. Why aren’t we focusing more on storm-resistant infrastructure? smh

Reply
AaronP October 6, 2023 - 6:44 pm

Policies focused on kids, finally! If we dont protect the next generation, who will?

Reply
Beth_G October 6, 2023 - 7:16 pm

the part about kids being more vulnerable to exploitation when displaced really got to me. That’s beyond tragic.

Reply
JohnDoe October 6, 2023 - 11:13 pm

Wow, this is eye-opening. Cant believe the numbers are this high. Climate change is real, people, and its messing up our kids’ lives too.

Reply
Nina_W October 6, 2023 - 11:59 pm

why is action so slow? We have the tools and knowledge but what’s lacking? Is it just political will?

Reply
EmilyH October 7, 2023 - 1:55 am

Didn’t even realize how bad it was in the Horn of Africa and the Caribbean. it’s not just stats, these are real children suffering.

Reply

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