IFRC: Alarming levels of climate-related displacement

IFRC: Alarming levels of climate-related displacement
17 March 2021

(This story is an IFRC press release issued earlier today in Kuala Lumpur and Geneva.)

A new report reveals 12.6 million people have been internally displaced around the world in the last six months due mainly to climate and weather-related disasters, according to data available through the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

The IFRC report, Responding to Disasters and Displacement in a Changing Climate, comes hot on the heels of a record-breaking 26 climate-related disaster-response operations launched across Asia and the Pacific in 2020.

Helen Brunt, IFRC Asia Pacific Migration and Displacement Coordinator, said: “In just the last six months, there have been 12.6 million people internally displaced around the world, and over 80 per cent of these forced displacements have been caused by disasters, most triggered by climate and weather extremes.

“Asia suffers much more than any other region from climate disaster-related displacements. These upheavals are taking a terrible toll on some of the poorest communities already reeling from the economic and social impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

At-risk groups

Covid-19 has complicated the provision of humanitarian support to displaced communities, with greater space needed when evacuating, along with increased safety protocols. Longer-term support is also more complicated for people with shattered livelihoods.

“We are seeing an alarming trend of people displaced by more extreme weather events such as Typhoon Goni, the world’s most ferocious storm last year, that smashed into the Philippines. Three storms hit the Philippines in as many weeks, leaving over 3 million people destitute.

“We need greater action and urgent investment to reduce internal displacement caused by the rising risk of disasters.

“Investing much more in local organizations and first responders is critical so they have the resources needed to protect lives, homes and their communities.”

The report analyses climate-related displacement as well as a post-earthquake operation across eight countries, examining response by National Societies in coordination with governments and other agencies.

‘We are seeing an alarming trend
of people displaced by more extreme
weather events such as Typhoon Goni,
the world’s most ferocious storm last year’

The research finds that displacement disproportionately affects already marginalized and at-risk groups including women, children, the elderly, people with a disability, migrants and refugees.

When disasters destroy villages and entire neighbourhoods, the report shows that people also face long-term housing, land and property issues. Women and children are also confronted with increased risks of violence due to climate-related displacement.

“Investment in long-term solutions is urgently needed before disasters force more people away from their homes, livelihoods and communities,” said Ms Brunt.

Shariatpur, Bangladesh, 2018. More than 40,000 people lost their houses and farms when the Padma river was badly eroded, with an embankment collapsing. The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and the IFRC reached the most vulnerable with shelter kits and tarpaulins, one case study featured in a new IFRC report on displacement triggered by climate-related disasters. (File photo: Sajid Hasan/BDRCS)

(Editor’s note: The figure of 12.6 million displaced includes 2.3 million conflict displacements; it also includes a small number of seismic events, particularly earthquakes.)