The United Nations Children's Fund warned on Thursday that weather disasters brought on by climate change caused 43.1 million child displacements between 2016 and 2021 and criticized the lack of attention given to the victims.
Co-Author Laura Healy told American for Prosperity, or AFP, that the data only indicated the "tip of the iceberg," with many more possibly affected, in comprehensive research on the subject that included the heartbreaking stories of some children affected.
Khalid Abdul Azim, a child from Sudan, recalls his terrible experience in a flooded village that can only be reached by boat.
"We moved our belongings to the highway, where we lived for weeks," he said.
In 2017, sisters Mia and Maia Bravo watched flames engulf their trailer in California from the back of the family minivan.
"I was afraid, in shock," Maia said.
Statistics on internal displacements caused by climate disasters generally do not account for the victim's age.
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, a non-governmental organization, and UNICEF collaborated to analyze the data and uncover the hidden toll for children.
Four types of climate disaster (floods, storms, droughts, and wildfire) has led to 43.1 million child displacements in 44 countries in which frequency of the said disasters has increased during global warming, the report says.
Ninety-five percent of those displacements were caused by floods and storms.
"It's equivalent of about 20,000 child displacements every day," Healy lamented on AFP highlighting how the afflicted children are then at risk of suffering other traumas, such as being torn away from their parents or being the prey of child traffickers.
As one child may be uprooted more than once, the numbers reflect the number of displacements rather than the number of children affected.
The number of displaced people as a result of drought is "radically underreported," according to Healy because they are less abrupt and hence harder to measure.
This is just the tip of the iceberg based on the available data that we have," she said.
"The reality is with the impacts of climate change, or better tracking of displacement when it comes to slow onset events, that the number of children who are uprooted from their homes is going to be much greater." Healy added.
UNICEF Report Reveals Alarming Predictions for Child Displacements Due to Climate Events In a recently released UNICEF report, startling forecasts have been unveiled for specific climate-related events. According to the report, the next three decades could witness a staggering 96 million child displacements due to flooding caused by overflowing rivers.
Additionally, cyclonic winds are projected to force 10.3 million child displacements, while storm surges may result in 7.2 million displacements. It's worth noting that these estimates do not factor in preventive evacuation measures, raising concerns about the potential scale of displacement.
UNICEF's Executive Director, Catherine Russell, emphasized the profound impact on those compelled to flee, including the fear of an uncertain return, disruptions to education, and the possibility of further relocations. Russell stressed that while migration may save lives, it also brings significant upheaval and challenges.
"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." She added.
At the COP28 climate summit in Dubai in November and December, UNICEF urged world leaders to take up the climate issue.
According to Healy, children, particularly those who have already been compelled to move must be prepared "to live in a climate change world".
While the effects of climate change are spreading across large portions of the planet, the UNICEF report highlights some of the most susceptible nations.
The biggest number of displaced people (almost 23 million in six years) occurred in China, India, and the Philippines because of their massive populations, strategic positions, and precautionary evacuation measures.
However, in proportional terms, Africa and small island states are most at risk; in Dominica, 76 percent of all children were uprooted between 2016 and 2021. More than 30 percent of the said amount went to Saint Martin and Cuba.