UNICEF says weather-related disasters have displaced millions of children

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FILE PHOTO: A plastic boot is pictured on dry cracked mud at a house affected by the floods due to the rains brought by Hurricanes Eta and Iota, in Villanueva, Honduras December 6, 2020. Picture taken December 6, 2020. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

GENEVA (Reuters) – UNICEF on Friday said floods, storms, and other weather-related disasters have driven millions of children from their homes, with the situation set to deteriorate if action is not taken.

There have been 43.1 million internal displacements of children across 44 countries between 2016 and 2021, due to events such as droughts and wildfires, according to the organization.

UNICEF recorded the most weather-related child displacements in the East Asia and Pacific region due to the combination of hazards there, followed by South Asia.

Among the countries with the highest in absolute numbers were China and the Philippines, due to their exposure to extreme weather events, their large child populations and evacuation capacities.

“As the impacts of climate change escalate, so too will climate-driven movement,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement.

“We have the tools and knowledge to respond to this escalating challenge for children, but we are acting far too slowly.”

Extreme weather events have become more common in recent years due to climate change.

Floods and storms accounted for 95% of the child displacements, said UNICEF, during the six-year period, according to its report, “Children Displaced in a Changing Climate”.

“The displacement of children is barely on the radar of leaders,” said Verena Knaus, UNICEF Global Lead on Migration and Displacement.

The report projects that nearly 96 million children will be displaced due to river floods alone over the next three decades, an average of almost 3.2 million children every year.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Deborah Kyvrikosaios)

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