Tens of millions of children uprooted by climate disasters: UNICEF Tens of millions of children uprooted by climate disasters: UNICEF  (AFP or licensors)

UNICEF: The future of children at risk due to Climate Change

Published in the wake of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation “Laudate Deum” in which the Holy Father asks for urgent action to counter the effects of climate change before it is too late, a United Nations report says that storms, fires and other extreme weather events led to more than 43 million displacements involving children between 2016 and 2021.

By Linda Bordoni

Eight years on from the publication of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical Laudato si, on Care for our Common Home, his Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum published this week contains an urgent call to world leaders to radically change the current technocratic paradigm before it’s too late. In it, the Pope reiterates how humankind’s greed for profit has led to inadequate or lack of action on the part of wealthy nations to curb climate change and continues to risk putting the human family and the planet in a situation of no return.

A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund -UNICEF – just two days after the publication of Laudate Deum, reveals that in some areas, like the Horn of Africa, the equivalent of nearly half of all children were uprooted between 2016 and 2021 because of climate change.

The report, drawn up by scientific and migration experts, says the threat will worsen as extreme weather events intensify.

In Africa and Asia, it notes, the biggest factors forcing families from their homes were floods and storms. In wealthier nations like the U.S. and Canada, wildfires were a major problem. Slower disasters, like droughts, can be hard to track and their impacts may be underreported.

Flood-affected children in India's Assam state
Flood-affected children in India's Assam state

Dire forecast

Adding to that sobering figure of over 43 million displacements involving children, UNICEF forecasts at least 113 million more children will be displaced in the next three decades.

Countries already hard-hit by the effects of climate change and in particular by child displacement due to climate hazards include Somalia, Philippines, China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Caribbean island nations.

The extreme weather events not only pose a threat to the very lives of children but also to their health, their education and their future.

Calling for climate change action but also for vital emergency services to become  "shock-responsive, portable and inclusive," a UNICEF migration specialist notes: "We have the tools. We have the knowledge. But we're just not working fast enough."

A mother and child displaced by wildfires in California
A mother and child displaced by wildfires in California

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06 October 2023, 15:29