UNICEF reports on children displaced in a changing climate

06 October 2023

Millions of children are being driven from their homes by weather- related events, exacerbated by climate change. While the link between climate change and displacement is complex, it’s clearer than ever that the climate is shifting patterns of displacement, according to a new report from the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF).

"Children displaced in a changing climate: Preparing for a future already underway" analyses the most common weather-related hazards that lead to the largest number of displacements: floods, storms, droughts and wildfires. The report notes that there were 43.1 million internal displacements of children linked to weather-related disasters over a six-year period – the equivalent to approximately 20,000 child displacements per day. Almost all – 95 per cent – of recorded child displacements were driven by floods and storms.

The WMO State of the Global Climate reports include information on displacement and migration patterns as a result of extreme weather and climate change impacts.

Displacement – whether short-lived or protracted – can multiply climate- related risks for children and their families. In the aftermath of a disaster, children may become separated from their parents or caregivers, amplifying the risks of exploitation, child trafficking, and abuse. Displacement can disrupt access to education and healthcare, exposing children to malnutrition, disease, and inadequate immunization.

Yet until now, children displaced by weather-related events have been statistically invisible. Existing displacement data are rarely disaggregated by age, and factors such as rapid urbanization, fragility and conflict can mean that children on the move are even more likely to slip through the cracks.

For more information: UNICEF press release.

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