Vietnam among countries recording most child displacements due to natural disasters

By Minh Minh   October 6, 2023 | 04:00 pm PT
Vietnam among countries recording most child displacements due to natural disasters
Two children are on a bus with the elderly as they are evacuated from storm Noru in Vietnam's central province of Quang Nam in September 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh
Around 930,000 children in Vietnam were displaced due to hazards such as floods, storms and drought between 2016 and 2021, among the 10 highest numbers of 44 countries surveyed by UNICEF.

Weather-related disasters caused 43.1 million internal displacements of children in 44 countries over the six-year period, or approximately 20,000 child displacements a day, according to UNICEF’s "Children Displaced in a Changing Climate" report released Friday.

The report is the first of its kind conducted globally of the number of children driven from their homes between 2016 and 2021 due to floods, storms, droughts and wildfires.

Floods and storms accounted for 40.9 million of displacements, partly due to better reporting of the disasters and evacuations. Droughts triggered more than 1.3 million displacements, while wildfires triggered 810,000 cases.

According to the analysis, East Asia and Pacific experienced an estimated 19 million child displacements linked to weather-related disasters between 2016 and 2021, representing more than 44% of the global total. Most displacements of children in East Asia and Pacific were triggered by floods, which led to over 12 million displacements, and storms, over 6 million displacements.

Vietnam, together with China, the Philippines and Indonesia, is among the top 10 countries that recorded the highest numbers of child displacements due to extreme weather, large child populations and progress made on early warning and evacuation capacities.

But based on the size of the child population, children living in small island states, such as Vanuatu, Fiji, Palau and Northern Mariana Islands were most affected by storms, the analysis found.

"Evidence from each of the disasters striking Vietnam confirm over and again that children are highly exposed to the impacts of the climate crisis, not just their health but every aspect of their development is affected. It is essential that as the country makes the critical and urgent switch to green energy, there are increased efforts and resources to create climate-resilient communities across Vietnam," Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative to Vietnam, said in a statement.

Using a disaster displacement risk model developed by Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, the report projects riverine floods have the potential to displace almost 96 million children over the next 30 years, based on current climate data, while cyclonic winds and storm surges have the potential to displace 10.3 million and 7.2 million children respectively. With more frequent and more severe weather events as consequence of changing climate, the actual numbers will almost certainly be higher, according to UNICEF.

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