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Children Displaced by Climate Change

Imagine yourself: 11 years old, sprinting through water that is approaching at your ankles, vision blurred by 50 mph wind, and screaming so that your family might know where you are. Except they don’t. Unfortunately, this is the reality for millions of children across the world. As of this week, 43 million children have been displaced from their native area and family due to extreme climate.

In Somalia, children have had to leave their homes at least 1.3 million times to escape the dangers of droughts. The ground is drying up faster due to higher global temperatures, impacting soil, crops, and surface water. As a result, there is a lack of groundwater and food, depriving local people of essential nutrients and requiring them to relocate. In the USA and Canada, wildfires have been a great push factor. Because of the dry ground and plants, brush fires are becoming more common and driving people out of their homes. It is expected that global temperatures will increase an additional 2 to 8 degrees by 2050.

China, India, and the Philippines, have seen the largest numbers in displacement because of floods and storms. China, holding over 1.4 billion people as

Children in Somalia
Children in Somalia are greatly impacted by droughts.

of 2021, and India, also holding over 1.4 billion people, are some of the most populated countries in the world. These countries, along with the Philippines, are exposed to water on many borders and experience rainy seasons and hurricane-equivalent “tufans”, which are increasing with severity as time passes. More river floods are expected as water level rises alongside global precipitation, increasing at an average rate of 0.04 inches per decade in some parts of the world. Floods and storms account for 95% of the children displaced in these regions, statistics that are worsened by the fact that many children are unaccounted for in areas that are not thoroughly assessed due to poor infrastructure and high population density.

Over the next 30 years, another 113 million children are expected to be displaced due to climate change. No current preventive action exists, and it is even more difficult to implement such a process in the future because of how unpredictable extreme weather is. It is hard to assess how a certain region may be impacted, although we do know how children are being hurt when displaced.

There is increasing risk of pregnancy for young women who cannot protect themselves against local gangs and threats. For all children, trafficking and exploitation become likely, as dangerous organizations view these children as forms of labor, exposing the children to dangerous work environments, an unhealthy lifestyle, and poor mental health. Children displaced have been observed to display depression and higher levels of aggravation. Furthermore, they usually do not receive an education and have lower literacy rates. They also cannot rely on indigenous practices or culture to help them survive due to the lack of community.

UNICEF and many other organizations are actively trying to help with this case by providing protection to areas vulnerable to extreme weather changes. We can help by donating to UNICEF, Save the Children, and many other organizations making efforts to help save these children and their families, while also reducing our global footprint with small environmental choices daily.

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