Energy & Environment

Extreme weather events expected to displace millions of children: UNICEF

Extreme weather events could displace millions of children over the next three decades, according to a new report from UNICEF.

The analysis found that 43.1 million child displacements over the past six years, or 20,000 child displacements per day, were linked to weather-related disasters.

Most of the displacements were driven by flooding and storms, and children from the Philippines, India and China were most affected by these displacements.

“In addition to their locations and geographic profiles being prone to floods and storms, these countries’ sizes and populations also help explain the large number of displacements,” UNICEF found.

Droughts caused more than 1.3 million displacements across 15 countries. More than half the drought-related displacements occurred in Somalia, Ethiopia and Afghanistan. UNICEF said “slow-onset displacements due to events like droughts” are likely highly underreported because there’s no global estimation associated with future events like droughts.

Wildfires were the third-largest weather event to displace children around the world. The United States, Canada and Israel, “which all have robust early warning and DRR [disaster risk reduction] systems,” all reported the most children uprooted due to wildfires.  

On average, island developing states and countries in the Horn of Africa have experienced the greatest proportion of their child population displaced over the past six years. Dominica, Saint Martin, Sint Maarten, the Northern Mariana Islands, Cuba and Vanuatu recorded the most child displacements relative to their populations.

Researchers warn that the number of displacements will only increase as climate change creates stronger weather effects, uprooting people across the globe from their homes.

“As the impacts of climate change escalate, so too will climate-driven movement. We have the tools and knowledge to respond to this escalating challenge for children, but we are acting far too slowly,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement. “We need to strengthen efforts to prepare communities, protect children at risk of displacement, and support those already uprooted.”

Tags children Climate change extreme weather global warming UNICEF