United Nations, Oct 5 (EFE).- Floods and storms forced the displacement of 40.9 million children globally between 2016 and 2021, according to a report published Friday by the United Nations children’s agency.
A child of a farmer from the drought affected districts of Maharashtra plays with the toy car at a temperory refugee camp in Mumbai, India, 26 April 2016. EPA-EFE FILE/DIVYAKANT SOLANKI
This accounted for 95 percent of the 43.1 million internal displacements of children in 44 countries due to weather-related disasters over the six-year period – or approximately 20,000 child displacements a day, according to calculations by Unicef in its report titled “Children Displaced in a Changing Climate.”
River flooding alone is expected to displace another 96 million children in the next 30 years, based on current climate data, it said.
Floods are by far the most extreme phenomenon linked to climate change that is causing the displacement of children – far above droughts, which forced the exodus of 1.3 million, especially in Somalia, or wildfires with 810,000.
While China and the Philippines are among the countries that recorded the highest absolute numbers of child displacements due to their exposure to extreme weather, the case is even more serious in terms of percentage of the population in island states such as Dominica and Vanuatu where children are most affected by storms, and South Sudan and Somalia where they are most affected by flooding.
“For those who are forced to flee, the fear and impact can be especially devastating, with worry of whether they will return home, resume school, or be forced to move again. Moving may have saved their lives, but it’s also very disruptive,” said Unicef Executive Director Catherine Russell.
Russell added that 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. We need to strengthen efforts to prepare communities, protect children at risk of displacement, and support those already uprooted,” she said.
Countries where the number of vulnerable children at risk of future displacement is the greatest and coping capacities and financing is limited – the report cites Haiti and Mozambique as examples – are where risk mitigation, adaptation, preparedness efforts and financing are most urgent.
Unicef is working with several countries most at risk to anticipate future flooding and thus minimize the risk of displacement, with strategies that particularly take into account their child populations. EFE